What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Regenerative medicine is an emerging branch of medicine with the goal of restoring organ and/or tissue function for patients with serious injuries or chronic disease. A growing crisis in chronic pain in our active and aging population have driven a search for new and alternative therapies beyond painkillers, steroids, and surgery. Something that can actually "fix" the root of the problem once and for all, not just cover it up.
Regenerative medicine holds the promise to create and repair parts of our bodies damaged due to age, injury or disease. Areas like arthritic knees, damaged spinal discs, or painful hips that are resistant to other treatments. One area of regenerative medicine involves the use of Stem Cells which have the power to naturally regenerate damaged tissues restoring function.
Our office has been on the forefront of regenerative injection treatments as one of its early adopters. Our team of orthopedic specialists has been able to give patients relief who have otherwise been disabled due to pain. While this is by no means a miracle it does hold promise to improve the lives of patients who have been told that surgery or pain medications are their only choice.
Where do the stem cells come from?
There are different types of stem cells, many of which hold great promise for tomorrow, and others that are being used today including "Adult Stem Cells". Adult stem cells are the repair cells that our bodies use to mend wounds and heal ourselves. Adult stem cells have been used in studies to treat a wide variety of conditions, especially in the area of orthopedics. Adult stem cells can be collected in the office from various sources in the human body, such as fat, peripheral blood, and bone marrow. Once they are collected they can be transferred to the area of need through the simple non-invasive process of an injection.
How do you get the stem cells?
There are two methods of obtaining adult stem cells for use, one is from one's own fat and one from bone. For stem cells from bone, the area of skin over the side of the iliac crest, an area near the belt line is first numbed. Once the skin is numbed, the deeper structures are also anesthetized including the surface of the bone where a needle is then gently introduced. The clinician then samples a small quantity of blood from the bone marrow (know as "Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate"). This is then "spun down" in a special centrifuge to isolate and concentrate the stem cells along with other important substances for healing. This procedure, done entirely in the office on the same visit, can obtain hundreds of thousands of stem cells which can then be precisely injected back into the problem area thus stimulating the bodies own repair process.
The second method of obtaining stem cells is through the process of sampling a small amount of abdominal fat in a "mini-liposuction" type procedure. Fat is a rich source of stem cells and can be minimally processed in a way to obtain a composite of tissue and cells that include adult stem cells. Much like the bone procedure, the concentrated material is then injected into the area of tissue damage such as the knee, hip or the spine to help reduce pain and improve function. These injections are done using real-time ultrasound and x-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) to guide the stem cell placement with pinpoint accuracy.
What can you treat with stem cells?
Right now the world of stem cell therapy is expanding with new orthopedic advancements. Currently stem cells are being investigated as a method to treat chronic joint pain (like knee, hip, ankle, foot, elbow, hand, shoulder), chronic neck and lumbar spine pain (like degenerative disc disease, disc herniations, sacroiliac joint pain), and ligament and tendon injuries (rotator cuff tears, Achilles tendon issues, tennis elbow). Stem cell therapy are now being used to help patients recover faster from traditional orthopedic surgeries so they get can get back to activities faster. It seems the potential is almost unlimited as we learn more how to use these amazing cells.
What makes us so good?
Many clinicians are just starting to experiment with stem cell therapies while we have been using these and other regenerative treatments for almost 10 years. Not only do we have extensive experience, we utilize treatment procedures that increase our success rate even further. Techniques such high-resolution ultrasound imaging that give us a real-time way to guide these cells to the root cause of a patient's problem. This is a major breakthrough over "blind" injection techniques. Not only can we see where the problem is really coming from, we can use ultrasound imaging at the exact time of the treatment to improve our success. Another option is real-time X-ray guidance when ultrasound is not enough. In summary, our board-certified doctors have the experience, the treatment methods, and access to the most advanced imaging systems to get you better faster.
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