STEM CELL THERAPY
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 its 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’s bone marrow or adipose tissue. They can also be obtained from umbilical cord tissue. This tissue is collected from consenting and healthy mothers, after a planned C-section.
What else does this injection contain?
In addition to stem cells, these also contain many other vital substances for the healing process, such as growth factors, fibrocytes, epidermal cells and amino acids. These “other substances” are likely responsible for most of the beneficial effects of these injections.
Why use Umbilical Tissue 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 umbilical tissue have the most “potential” to differentiate into viable tissue.
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 in addition to numerous growth factors and cytokines.
What is the cost of Stem Cell Injections?
Stem cell injections vary depending on the site of the injection. Smaller joints require less volume and less product than larger joints. Cost also varies based on what type of injection Dr. Jones recommends for your individual situation.
How are stem cell injections given?
First, the umbilical tissue is thawed and mixed in a syringe in a 1:1 ration with sterile saline. The area to be injected is treated with a local anesthetic. 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. For bone marrow concentrate injections, the only difference is that I first harvest your bone marrow under sterile conditions. See the link below to see a live video of this procedure. It is actually quite easy to perform in a clinic without sedation.
Follow this link for bone marrow aspiration technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOPAYldKKQs
What happens after your treatment?
First and foremost, it is important to create the most optimal environment for stem cells. This means avoiding the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxyn, Celebrex, aspirin) for the first 4-6 weeks. Icing the site is encouraged. I recommend 20 minutes per hour. 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
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 by 3 months, I may recommend a follow up PRP injection to add some growth factors.
What are the potential complications?
There have been no reported adverse reactions in patients treated with any of the products that I use. There is typically injection site soreness and occasional swelling and inflammation for a few days after the injection. 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?
In terms of success, we must first define the meaning of the that term. Success indicates improvement in pain and function. It does not indicate a cure of the underlying disease. 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.
**NEW SERVICE** – EMAIL CONSULTATION
If you do have imaging studies ( X-rays, MRI etc.), you can certainly send me an email that includes ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:
1. A brief history of your problem
2. Prior treatments that you have tried
3. Prior surgeries
4. Imaging studies (standing X-rays are preferred for weight-bearing joints).
5. YOUR GOALS WITH THE TREATMENT.
Then I will review your case and give you my opinion as to whether you are a candidate.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Call my office at 719-632-7669 and ask for Kathy or Becky. They will take care of you.