Stem cells are primitive cells in our body that can regenerate, repair and fight against cell death. Stem cell therapy is a biologic treatment option that uses anabolic and anti-catabolic molecules to modify the arthritic or regenerative process. Stem cell therapy for pain can be used in both nonoperative and surgical settings. Basic science studies suggest that stem cells have the potential to regenerate and stimulate healing. A broad number of orthopedic and musculoskeletal injuries can be treated with this therapy, including stem cell therapy for knees. It is a field that continues to evolve, but important questions remain regarding stem cell therapy. It can also be used to complement other treatment options. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have several characteristics. They can:
- Differentiate into multiple tissues; specific cell types
- Release growth factors
- Proliferate & regenerate
- Reduce inflammation
- Mobilize during blood vessel formation
- Fight cell death (apoptosis)
Adult stem cells can be found in many locations in our bodies, including bone marrow, adipose (fat), muscle tissue and tendons. Adult stem cells eliminate any ethical concerns, are relatively easy to isolate and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to heal different types of damaged tissues.
How Stem Cell Therapy Is Done
First, we remove the stem cells from the bone marrow with a sterile procedure then anticoagulate the bone marrow fluid, called BMA. We process the BMA in a centrifuge to concentrate the stem cells and immediately inject the BMAC (concentrated bone marrow aspiration) into the injured/damaged joint or tissue.
There are similarities between PRP and stem cell therapy. Both come from the patient’s own body, elicit a healing response and tell native cells to heal and proliferate. Only stem cells, however, can replace lost cells by dividing and differentiating into the cell types the patient needs, then continuously renew and turn into other cell types. We can use stem cell therapy for:
- Rotator cuff disease
- Ligament injuries
- Tendon pathology
- Articular cartilage
- Meniscal repair
- Fracture healing
Together, PRP and stem cell therapy represent exciting new options in biology, healing and cell regeneration.
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