Stem Cell Therapy

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by Chris Jones, MD No Comments


Christopher K. Jones, MD

I am very excited to offer stem cell therapy as a treatment for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions.  Although stem cell therapy is in it’s infancy, early research is opening the door for another non-invasive treatment for degenerative arthritis, lateral or medial epicondylitis, patella tendinitis, plantar fascitis, rotator cuff tears, muscle injuries, shin splints as well as a variety of other conditions.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are cells that are able to differentiate (change) into any type of mature cell (i.e. bone, cartilage, tendon, muscle).  These cells have the ability to repair injured tissue by transforming into the particular type of cell that is needed in the area of treatment.

How are stem cells obtained?

Stem cells can be obtained from an individual by aspirating bone marrow and centrifuging it in order to separate the stem cells from the other cells such as red blood cells and adipocytes.  They can also be obtained from fetal tissue or the amniotic membrane.  The amniotic membrane can be sterilely processed and produce an injectable product.

What else does this injection contain?

Amniotic Fluid contains over 1 million cells and included in these cells are mesenchymal stem cells.  It also contains many other vital substances for the healing process, such as growth factors, fibrocytes, epidermal cells and amino acids.  These other constituents is what differentiates amniotic products from adult derived mesenchymal stem cells.

Why use Amniotic-Derived Stem Cells as opposed to bone marrow derived or adipose derived stem cells?

The first and most obvious reason is that there is no donor site morbidity, meaning that Dr. Jones does not have to harvest bone marrow from your pelvis which can be painful and add a source of a potential complication.  Second, the potential of stem cells is thought to decrease with age so the stem cells derived from the amniotic fluid have the most “potential” to differentiate into viable tissue.  Not all sources of Amniotic Fluid guarantee that MSC’s are present in their product.  Dr. Jones only uses amniotic fluid from companies that have rigorous testing and preparation methods, and will guarantee MSC’s are present.

What is the advantage of using your own Bone Marrow?

First and foremost, it is your tissue so it carries no risk of disease transmission.  There is also an abundance of research that shows the presence of MSC’s in bone marrow concentrate.  Further, the number of stem cells in your bone marrow is greater.

What is the cost of Stem Cell Injections?   Stem cell injections vary depending on the site of the injection.  Dr. Jones utilizes a different concentration of stem cells.  The cost of stem cells combined with the PRP ranges from $2000 to $4000 per injection.

How are stem cell injections given?

First, The amniotic derived stem cells are mixed with PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma).  The area to be injected is treated with a local anesthetic, and the mixture of local anesthetic and PRP is injected into the part of the body being treated.    For many of these injections, I utilize ultrasound in order to guide the needle into the bad tissue or joint.  The whole process takes place in my clinic and typically takes less than 30 minutes.

What happens after your treatment?

First and foremost, it is important to create the most optimal environment for the stem cells.  This means avoiding the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxyn, Celebrex, aspirin) and not icing the affected area for the first 4-6 weeks.  Additionally, I advise against high impact or vigorous activity during the 6 weeks.  It is okay to walk, lift light weights and do low impact activities such as bicycle or elliptical.

What conditions may benefit from stem cell injections?

  • Tendinopathies (lateral and medial epicondylitis, patella tendinitis, rotator cuff)
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Partial meniscal tears
  • Muscle tears
  • Shin splints
  • Chondromalacia

When will I begin to see some improvement?

Patients typically report some improvement as early as 6 weeks.  They also report improvements up to 2 years following the treatment.  For some patients, if limited response is seen at 6 months, I may recommend a second injection.

What are the potential complications?

There have been no reported adverse reactions in patients treated with the amniotic stem cell product that I use.  There is typically injection site soreness for a few days after the injection, and there is a very low (well less than 1%) risk of infection with any injection.

Does insurance pay for stem cell therapy?

Insurance companies consider stem cell therapy experimental, and therefore, do not pay for this treatment.

What are the results?

The research currently available suggests that approximately 85% of patients respond favorably to stem cell injections.  There are several studies evaluating treatment of knee arthritis.  These studies show patients to have significant relief up to 2 years following the injection.  Further, they noted that those with more severe arthritis will not benefit as much, and will more likely require additional treatments.   The results of treating tendinopathies have shown similar success.  This therapy is certainly new, but shows incredible promise and will likely be mainstream in the future.

Am I a candidate for stem cell therapy?

If you are suffering from one of the above or other orthopedic conditions, I am happy to have you schedule a consultation and discuss your particular case.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Call my office at 719-632-7669