Stem Cell Therapy
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions. Stem cells are found throughout the body and have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types. In addition, in many tissues they serve as an internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish and repair other cells. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, tendon cell, ligament cell, or cartilage cell.
Where do Stem Cells come from?
Stem cells are the repairmen of the body. The type of adult stem cell that is most often seen in research as being associated with tissue repair is the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC). These cells are formed in the bone marrow and usually travel to the injured areas within the body via the bloodstream. If the injured area has a poor blood supply then the body is not able to get enough of these and other repair cells to the injured areas. This can occur in joints, meniscus tissue, rotator cuffs, spinal discs, and other tendon injuries. These are areas that typically do not heal on their own. Since there can be a poor blood supply in this area, the body has trouble sensing an injury is present. By delivering stem cells and growth factors to this area by concentrating and injecting them, we are mimicking an improved blood supply allowing the body to then heal the damaged tissues and repair itself.
What can stem cells treat?
Stem cell therapy is used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulder, knees, hips, and spine. They are also being used in the treatment of various soft tissue (muscle, ligaments, and tendons) as well as bone-related injuries.
How are stem cell treatments performed?
Stem cells are collected by aspirating bone marrow from the back of the patient’s pelvis. The bone marrow aspirate is a bloody substance that is removed from the pelvis through a small needle. There is usually minimal discomfort with this procedure since the area is well anesthetized with a local anesthetic. This aspirate contains mesenchymal stem cells, platelets, and other types of growth factors. The bone marrow is then placed into the machine called centrifuge. This machine spins the bone marrow at a very fast speed causing the stem cells and platelets to be separated from the rest of the blood products. It is this concentration of stem cells and other critical factors found in bone marrow that is injected back into the injured area.
How long does it take to see results?
The complete repair can take 2-3 months but improvement is usually felt within a few weeks.
Risks and Complications
Stem cell therapy is an autologous procedure, which means that it involves using tissue taken from your own body. This significantly reduces the risk of allergic reaction and rejection of the cells by the body.