Stem cell therapy is a leading-edge technique in treating a variety of musculoskeletal injuries including knee arthritis, rotator cuff injuries, hip labral tears, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis to name a few. The process involves taking your body’s own stem cells, concentrating them in a centrifuge, and reinjecting them into areas of tissue damage to induce a naturally occurring healing response.
Stem cells are precursor cells to mature tendon, ligament, and cartilage cells. When stimulated in the right environment they have the ability to differentiate into healthy mature tendon, ligament, or cartilage cells and actually fix damaged areas by regenerating damaged tissue into healthy tissue. This has been shown for example in knee meniscus and cartilage in various studies. It is particularly exciting because previously this was thought to not be possible.
Additionally, the environment that new young stem cells live in is rich in anti-inflammatory cytokines and proteins to help change painful pro-inflammatory environments, such as arthritic knee, into an environment that is no longer painful. This is compared to traditional anti-inflammatory treatment options such as cortisone injections which merely mask the symptoms of pain and some studies suggest may even cause tissue atrophy or degeneration.
The results in my patients stem cells have been very promising with most patients showing improvement in their pain and function if not complete resolution.
At Spine Nevada, we administer stem cell therapy using image guidance with either ultrasound or fluoroscopy to ensure the cells are not only delivered with precision into the areas of tissue damage, but done so using only ultra-minimally invasive techniques.
Typically, only one stem cell injection is necessary to be effective, but the entire healing process following the procedure could take up to 6-12 weeks to know how effective the procedure was. The length of time varies depending on how quickly an individual heals.
I recommend regenerative medicine procedures, such as platelet rich plasma injections or stem cell / bone marrow aspiration procedures as an option when discussing nearly any musculoskeletal pain complaint with patients, particularly when more conservative options have already failed.
Article composed by Dr. Matthew Mcauliffe, fellowship-trained sports and spine medicine physician at SpineNevada.
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