Stem Cell Injections
One of our most promising breakthroughs in non-surgical treatments for arthritis and tendinopathies (tendonitis) has been the use of stem cells. Bone marrow and adipose tissue (fat cells) contain mesenchymal stem cells, otherwise known as ‘stem cells’. Stem cells have regenerative properties that can assist in healing your body in the most natural way.
Stem cells have the ability to become other cells in the body and can differentiate into a variety of cell types including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). They’re regenerative in nature. Current research is looking at how these stem cells can delay the progression of arthritis or possibly repair the body using its own natural response to damage. Since the cells can be harvested from your own body, they represent a natural way of healing.
Worldwide, stem cell therapy has been recognized by the medical industry as the biggest breakthrough in natural healing. When stem cells are injected into an area that needs healing, your body’s natural response is to accelerate the process and repair the damage. It is a non-surgical procedure that involves the removal and then injection of your own naturally occurring stem cells. We concentrate stem cells from bone marrow or we use your own fat (adipose) tissue to harvest the stem cells.
Process of Stem cell Therapy
The procedures for most patients are well tolerated. This non-surgical procedure involves first extracting the bone marrow or adipose tissue to harvest the stem cells. The cells are then concentrated and prepared with specialized devices to remove any unneeded components and allow for the optimal effect of the stem cells. The naturally occurring cells are then ready for injection into a joint, tendon, or bursa to assist healing.
The harvesting of the stem cells can take 40-60 minutes, although the actual procedure is only a portion of that time. The process of concentrating the stem cells takes 10-25 minutes. The concentrated stem cells are then injected into the structures that a physician and patient would like to see healed. The injection can take 1-5 minutes depending on the specific structure/location injected.
What do I do before the procedure?
The main understanding that patients need to know before the procedure is to avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) for 5 days before the procedure. Examples include over-the-counter medicines, like ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), and prescription strength NSAIDs, such as Mobic, Diclofenac, Arthrotec, etc. It is believed that these medications can decrease the effect of the healing process that we are trying to stimulate.
In most cases, patients can drive themselves to and from the procedure. Plans may need to be made to avoid work or sport activities for a few days to following the procedure.
What happens afterwards?
Stem cell injections are designed to restart the healing process. Part of that process is restarting inflammatory actions. Therefore, most patients are sore for 2-3 days following the procedure. This can be a sign that the procedure is working. Icing for 10-minute periods, once per hour, may decrease soreness. Over-the-counter pain medicines like Tylenol can be used for patients who do not have contraindications to that medication. In rare cases, the provider will prescribe other pain medicines.
Most people need to take 2-3 days away from any strenuous activity involving the area of the body where the procedure is performed.
Often, rehabilitation exercises will likely be prescribed to start a few days after the injection. This may be done at home or formally with a physical therapist.