Stem Cells Therapy
Sunstone Regenerative Medicine is 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 non-invasive treatments for many conditions.
What conditions may benefit from Stem Cell Therapy?
- Tendinopathies (lateral and medial epicondylitis, patella tendinitis, rotator cuff)
- Degenerative arthritis
- Partial meniscal tears
- Muscle tears
- Shin splints
- Spine conditions such as degenerative disc disease, stenosis and arthritis
What are Stem Cells?
Stem Cells: Stem cells are cells in the human body whose job is to form connective and other tissues as we grow and develop. In your own body, stem cells have the ability to differentiate (change) into different types of mature cells (i.e. bone, cartilage, tendon, muscle). When using these cells in regenerative medicine, it is believed that these cells, when re-injected into an area of treatment, may have the ability to promote healing and regeneration of injured tissues by stimulating a healing response from your own stem cells and promoting growth from the proteins and other extracellular factors.
How are stem cells and other regenerative tissues obtained?
Stem cells can be obtained from an individual’s bone marrow or adipose tissue (this is called autograft tissue, meaning it comes from your own body). Sunstone also uses an allograft (donated) umbilical cord tissue product that is obtained from post-Caesarian umbilical cord, amniotic materials and placental birth tissue. This tissue is collected from consenting and healthy mothers, after planned C-sections.
The elements in the bone marrow aspirate, adipose tissue and umbilical cord tissue include elements such as: growth factors, collagen scaffolding, lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients that are believed to help protect, cushion, lubricate, reduce inflammation and assist the body in the healing and regeneration process.
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 much of the beneficial effects of these injections.
Why use Umbilical Tissue as opposed to bone marrow-derived or adipose-derived stem cells?
The decision of which therapy to utilize is one between you and your doctor and one our providers and team will discuss with you at length. Some people are not candidates for bone marrow-derived or adipose derived harvests based on age or other health factors, so those people may want to consider using the donated tissue.
What is the advantage of using your own Bone Marrow?
First and foremost, it is your own tissue so it carries no risk of adverse reactions. There is also an abundance of research that shows the presence of MSC’s (mesenchymal stem cells) in bone marrow concentrate in addition to numerous growth factors and cytokines.
How are regenerative therapy injections given?
If using the allograft cord tissue, the first step is that 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. Your provider will utilize ultrasound in order to guide the needle into the appropriate treatment area or joint. The whole process takes place in our clinic and typically takes less than 30 minutes.
For stem cell bone marrow concentrate injections, the only difference is that your surgeon will 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 and other growth factors. This means avoiding the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxyn, Celebrex, aspirin) for the first 4-6 weeks. Avoid high temperatures such as hot tubs and hot baths for a few weeks after the injection. Additionally, we 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. PT may be recommended, typically once the discomfort from the injection site abides.
When will I begin to see some improvement?
Patients may report some improvement as early as 6 weeks but the normal response is after about 8-10 weeks. They also report improvements up to 2 years following the treatment. For some patients, if limited response is seen by 3 months, we may recommend a follow up PRP injection to add additional growth factors.
What are the results?
In terms of success, we must first define the meaning of the 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 WHEN APPROPRIATELY SELECTED FOR TREATMENT. 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.
What are the potential complications?
There have been no reported adverse reactions in patients treated with any of the products that we 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 these injections.
What is the cost of Stem Cell Injections?
Regenerative therapy injections vary depending on the site of the injection and the type of procedure our team recommends for your individual condition/situation. Unfortunately, Medicare and other private insurance companies do not cover regenerative therapy treatments. However, we want to make these cutting-edge treatments available to everyone, so we make every attempt to make them as affordable as possible while still utilizing the best equipment and products available. Please call us to discuss costs and treatment options.
Does insurance pay for stem cell therapy?
Insurance companies consider stem cell therapy experimental, and therefore, do not pay for this treatment.
Am I a candidate for stem cell therapy?
If you are suffering from one of the above or other orthopedic conditions, we are happy to have you schedule a consultation and discuss your particular case.
You will be given an honest opinion. Our only goal is to have success for our patients! We value and take pride in our patient’s outcomes and look forward to seeing them in the future for other problems.