Christopher Jones, M.D. | Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group
Stem cell treatments, also referred to as biologics, are a very hot topic. The media and internet are filled with marketing and false information as to what these treatments are capable of accomplishing. The reason for this is simple. Currently, no insurance companies recognize this as a proven treatment option and do not offer coverage for them because they are still considered experimental. Thus, it is a cash business. Businessmen and some providers see this as an opportunity to “cash in” and are jumping on the bandwagon. This is why you see “Stem Cell Clinics” popping up everywhere. There are numerous national businesses that are planting these clinics in cities throughout the nation, including Colorado Springs. These clinics offer false information as to what these treatments are able to accomplish in hopes of selling their treatment. They are not part of this community like I have been for many years. I take pride in my patient’s outcomes and look forward to seeing them in the future for other problems, therefore, I will not recommend these treatments unless I truly believe that they have potential to help your condition.
I want you to understand that I am a believer in these treatments when they are appropriately applied. I have been utilizing them for over 13 years in my practice. In patients that can benefit from them, the results can be incredible. I have actually received these treatments myself for a chronic spine condition, and the improvement was notable.
The orthopedic conditions that can be treated include:
- Partial rotator cuff tears
- Jumper’s Knee
- Tennis Elbow
- Golfers Elbow
- Hamstring tendon partial tears
- Lumbar disc disease
- as well as others.
The most common condition of patients seeking treatment is knee arthritis or chondromalacia.
Available products include platelet rich plasma (PRP), bone marrow concentrate, amniotic and umbilical cord products. All of these have shown promise in treating various conditions when applied appropriately. It is very important to understand that not all of these products are created equally. There are numerous preparations available and each possess different properties that can greatly affect their success.
No one is more knowledgable in treating your orthopedic conditions than an orthopedic surgeon. Although there are times when these products can help your situation as a stand alone treatment, there are also times when these products administered alone will not improve your situation. However, when combined with surgery, can have the potential to greatly improve your long term outcome. An example of this would be a patient who has degenerative arthritis and a symptomatic meniscal tear. In this situation, the best approach would be to do a knee arthroscopy in order to clean out the fragmented meniscal tear (causing sharp pain) and add a biologic therapy in order to benefit the arthritic process (that cannot be “fixed”). As an orthopedic surgeon, I understand the nuances of treating these problems and also understand that I cannot “fix” everything with surgery.
I have research data that compared patients with a meniscus tear and arthritis of the knee who required arthroscopy, and either received concomitant autologous bone marrow concentrate or platelet rich plasma (1 injection at surgery and 2 follow up injections). The patients who received the biologic therapy recovered much more quickly and had better outcomes in all data points.
The first step of your evaluation should be a thorough discussion of your symptoms, a detailed examination and obtaining appropriate radiologic studies (X-Rays and sometimes an MRI). This will provide the information that I need in order to determine if you are a candidate.
If you would like more detailed information on these cutting edge treatments, check out my website for updates, as this is a rapidly changing field of medicine.
Chris Jones, MD