Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is in the news almost daily, with new breakthroughs, advances and future promises.
First, what are stem cells? Many have heard bits and pieces over the years — mostly the politically and morally charged debate about embryonic and fetal stem cells. However, there are many types of stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells can divide into almost any type of cells and are found in fetal and embryonic stem cells. Multipotent stem cells can divide into a variety of tissue types. These are found in blood, bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue. Research has now moved in the direction of autologous cells (your own stem cells) versus allogenic cells (someone else’s stem cells).
In application, if a stem cell can divide into a variety of tissue types, injecting it into an area, say, of thinning meniscal tissue, then the stem cell would divide into more meniscal tissue cells, helping someone with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Research is showing that stem cell therapy holds promise to treat a growing host of maladies, including post-heart attack, post-stroke, diabetes, macular degeneration, neurologic disorders (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s), and spinal cord injuries. Stem cells are being used (in research) to “grow” organs and tissue such as blood, esophagus, bladders, and muscle and skin. One Dutch researcher is using cow stem cells to “grow” beef muscle for hamburgers. The majority of these treatments are still in the research stage, with some conducting human trials.
Stem cell therapy is also used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, such as:
- Knee problems – meniscal tears, ACL injuries, medial collateral sprains and severe arthritis may be helped, accelerating recovery time, and possibly avoiding surgery.
- Shoulder problems – rotator cuff tears, tendinopathy (scarring from chronic injury due to irregular collagen formation), impingement syndromes, bursitis and severe arthritis are treatable with stem cells.
- Hip disorders – from chronic bursitis to severe arthritis, can be treated as well.
- Ankle and foot injuries – plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
Autologous stem cell therapy used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, while not FDA approved, is permissible in the United States. Stem cell therapy for any other condition is not allowed, at this time, in the United States, unless it is part of an approved research study or clinical trial.
Autologous stem cell therapy for musculoskeletal conditions uses less-than-minimally-manipulated stem cells derived from either bone marrow or adipose tissue. This is significant:
- No tissue rejection issues and thus no immunosuppressive therapy is needed, which often has harmful or life-threatening consequences.
- There is no possibility of foreign disease transmission, such as viruses, HIV or Hepatitis.
- No possibility of replicating cells with genetic mutations, or hereditary diseases or cancer propagation.
- And, lastly, it is much simpler and the entire procedure can be done in one day in the office.
An excellent article describing the stem cell therapy process for a knee injection can be found in the November 2011 issue of Practical Pain Management, entitled Advances in Regenerative Medicine: High-Density Platelet-rich Plasma and Stem Cell Prolotherapy for Musculoskeletal Pain. The article is a little technical, but not too technical.
Professional athletes, weekend warriors and the misfortunate who suffer as a result of accidents, have turned to regenerative medicine techniques such as platelet-rich plasma or stem cell therapy to treat acute injuries. These regenerative medicine techniques are also being used later in life as injured joints degenerate into arthritis. For some, stem cell therapy has allowed them to postpone surgery and joint replacement.
The future of medicine may eventually shift away from managing degeneration of the joints and spine to regenerative medicine, using cutting-edge procedures, such as stem cell therapy. This may allow us to manage injuries before arthritis develops.
If you suffer with a musculoskeletal condition and wonder if stem cell therapy might be an alternative treatment option, call to arrange a consult with Dr. Lox. Since 1990, Dennis M. Lox, M.D has applied his personal interests in sports, physical and regenerative medicine to helping patients increase their quality of life. Contact us for an appointment at 727-462-5582.
Dennis M. Lox, MD, and the Florida Spine Center serve patients within the greater Tampa Bay area, including Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg, as well as all of Florida and the US.
All statements, information or opinions provided by this website are provided for educational purposes only. We do not diagnose nor treat through this website or by telephone. As you consider any treatment, discuss them with your physician.
Regarding platelet-rich plasma or stem cell therapy: Neither statements nor treatments have been evaluated by the FDA. We do not claim that these treatments work for any listed or unlisted condition. Patient testimonials offer only the patient’s impression of how a therapy worked for them – individual results will vary; results are not guaranteed nor warranted. As you consider any treatment, discuss them with your physician.