Most people have heard of stem cells but may be unfamiliar with their abilities and potential for non-invasive treatment for a variety of conditions they may be suffering from. Although still a new science, stem cells are continuing to gain popularity and open a world of possibilities for future applications in Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer, vision loss, osteoarthritis, and other disease and injury treatment. Dr. Jones is leading Southern Colorado in stem cell, and other biologic treatments for orthopedic injuries. He treats and educates regarding a variety of musculoskeletal conditions such as degenerative arthritis, lateral or medial epicondylitis, patella tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tears, muscle injuries, shin splints and more. The advancements in technology and use of stem cells as a non-invasive treatment are still just beginning, but the possibilities for regenerative medicine are exciting to watch evolve. Although, “stem cell” is the hot word that catches the patient’s attention, most knowledgeable providers understand that the growth factors and anti-inflammatory proteins provide an equally important role in their mechanism of action.
In a nutshell, 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. Stem cells can be obtained from a variety of tissue including bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord blood or tissue. The benefits of umbilical tissue are:
- 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.
- 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. Dr. Jones only uses this tissue from companies that have rigorous testing and preparation methods before use in treatment.
- There are diminishing number of stem cells in bone marrow as you age
Stem cell products are then delivered directly to the source of your injury via injection and to the site of injury. When needed, Ultrasound is used to guide these injections in order to target very specific tissue. These injections are given with the goal of tissue regeneration and improved function as opposed to simply reducing inflammation and pain that you expect from a cortisone injection. In some cases, stem cell treatment can offer a viable treatment alternative to surgery, or help delay or eliminate the need for joint replacement.
In the orthopedic world, stem cell treatments have shown great success for common conditions as knee and hip arthritis, rotator cuff injuries, wrist, elbow and ankle issues, tendinopathies, chondromalacia and more. The research currently available suggests that approximately 85% of patients respond favorably to stem cell injections, although this can vary with severity and type of condition. As stem cell research improves and treatment continues to become more mainstream, the possibilities for improved patient response rises as well.