What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells help to create new cells in existing healthy tissues and help repair tissues in areas that are injured or damaged. They naturally work to reduce inflammation, prevent cell death, prevent infection and generate new blood vessels and tissue.
What Does Stem Cell Therapy Treat?
Stem cell therapy has successfully treated a wide range of orthopedic conditions, including soft tissue injuries involving tendons and ligaments. At Axis Spine Center, we use stem cells to treat rotator cuff tears, knee arthritis, back pain, and more. We also use stem cells in conjunction with PRP injections to treat advanced joint damage.
Who is a Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy?
If you have a tendon or ligament injury, muscle injury, joint damage, nerve pain, or back pain, you may be a candidate. If you have active cancer or infection, a history of lymphoma, or are taking certain blood thinners, this therapy may not be suitable for you without clearance from your oncologist or cardiologist.
Many common conditions can be treated with regenerative orthopedics:
- Osteoarthritis (or degenerative arthritis) of any joint: shoulder, knee, hip, ankle, elbow, wrist, finger, thumb and facets
- Low back pain
- Lumbar disc disease
- Tendonitis and tendon injuries
- Rotator cuff tears / injuries
- Ligament injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Plantar fasciitis
- Partial tendon or ligament tears
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Shin splints
- Joint injuries such as ankle sprains and knee sprains
Benefits of regenerative orthopedics include:
* Increased healing potential
* Decreased pain
* Increased function
* Quicker recovery time
* Decreased time away from sport or daily activities
Which of these uses have evidence to support their use?
Most of the evidence for the use of stem cells currently lies in orthopedics. We believe that tendon injuries, some bone disorders and cartilage problems, and joint arthritis have a significant body of evidence to support their use. There is new and ongoing research for the use of stem cells in the spine, particularly in the discs. This evidence is growing and over the next few years we are hopeful that the evidence will support their use in the spine.
There is no good evidence that stem cells cure things such as multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s, or any other systemic diseases at this time.
Is this therapy cleared by the FDA?
Doctors draw bone marrow from your hip and then concentrate it using an FDA-cleared device. Unlike procedures which process fat with enzymes or use living foreign cells like amniotic products, bone marrow concentration is carried out using your own cells with minimal manipulation at point-of-care, which meets the FDAs definition of the practice of medicine.
Where do adult stem cells come from?
In adults, stem cells are present within various tissues and organs. The most common sources are bone marrow and fat (or adipose) tissue. At Axis Spine we utilize bone marrow derived stem cells. Additionally, we are committed to the ethical practice of regenerative medicine. You can read more about this at www.orthobioethics.com.
How are adult stem cells obtained, prepared, and delivered?
A bone-marrow derived stem cell therapy generally takes 45-minutes. During your procedure, the physician will use a needle to withdraw bone marrow from the hip (5 minutes). A trained nurse or technician then uses specifically designed equipment to concentrate the adult stem cells and growth factors present in the bone marrow (15 minutes). Finally, the physician will deliver your concentrated stem cells back to the targeted area(s).
What sort of things should I look out for in clinics that offer stem cell therapy?
There are many people offering stem cells. The most important thing to remember is that the stem cells used need to come from your own body! If they don’t, they will be eliminated from the body. The body views these as “foreign cells”. Stem cells from the shelf or stem cells given IV will not help your problem. The stem cells need to be told where to go through complex signaling mechanisms. In the case of IV therapy the cells end up in the lung and are rapidly eliminated.
If it seems too good to be true…..it probably is!
How do I prepare for an adult stem cell procedure?
Prior to your procedure, your physician will ask you to withhold anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Aleve, Naproxen, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aspirin) at least 7 days prior to the injection.
Because of the nature of stem cells, the area being treated needs to be in its most natural state in order for them to appropriately address the injury and how to best respond.
What is the recovery period like?
After a joint injection, you can typically go back to work immediately. It is advised to avoid load-bearing activities for at least 2 weeks. After a disc injection, you should rest for 2-3 days and try to stay off your feet. In any stem cell procedure, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) should be withheld for one-week pre-procedure and one week post-procedure.
How long will it take until I feel relief or gain functionality?
Every patient is different, and the different areas being treated produce different results. Physicians have reported at emerging Regenerative Medicine conferences that some patients feel relief from a knee or other joint within 3 weeks; for disc injections (spine), around 3 months. This therapy is not like a steroid injection, which tends to show a rapid effect. Autologous bone marrow concentrated stem cells need time to address the microenvironment that is causing the pain, and then determine the best way to respond.
How long will I feel relief or maintain functionality after an adult stem cell therapy procedure?
Every patient’s condition is different, so every outcome will inherently be different.
A recent study published in International Orthopaedics showed that 21 out of 26 patients who received an autologous bone marrow concentrate stem cell injection to treat 1 to 2 level degenerating discs were stable and had lower pain scores past 2 years. (Pettine et al, 2015)
Also published in International Orthopaedics, Hernigou et al showed that bone marrow-derived stem cell injection added to a rotator cuff repair “enhanced the healing rate and improved the quality of life of the repaired surface…” (Hernigou et al, 2014)
Unfortunately, insurance does not cover Stem Cell treatment at this time.
STEM CELL COST