For several years, researchers have studied the potentiality of stem cells for therapeutic uses. We all have stem cells that assist the body’s reparative and regenerative functions. Stem cells are referred to as the body’s transformers because they are undifferentiated cells originally, then change (differentiate) into specialized types of cells, such as cartilage. We are proud to offer stem cell therapy at our office in Laurel, MD. Here, we discuss the purpose of this treatment and what to expect should you be a good candidate.
Why Are Stem Cells Valuable?
The body has hundreds of different types of cells. Why would stem cells be special? These cells are unique because of their differentiation potential. All of the other cells in the body originate in specific form. For example, bone cells are bone cells and will never be anything different. Stem cells are not differentiated at first; they become so as the body dictates. Stem cells do this because their role is to aid in the body’s healing processes.
Because stem cells are masters of change and exist primarily for repair and regeneration, they offer promise in the treatment of several injuries and diseases. Most commonly, these cells are used to help the body repair conditions such as injury to ligaments or cartilage and osteoarthritis. Sometimes, the presence of stem cells helps repair the injury. Sometimes, these cells help provide pain relief.
Stem cells are frequently used to treat:
- Tendon injuries
- Mild to moderate osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees and hips
- Sprains to tears to the LCL, PCL, ACL, or MCL (ligaments) in the knee
- Partial rotator cuff tears
- Patellar (kneecap) tendonitis
- Cartilage damage
- Back pain caused by degenerative disc disease or facet joint problems
What to Expect During and After Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is discussed after a thorough consultation and examination. For qualified patients, the procedure can be performed in the office using local anesthetic. Studies have shown that the most viable stem cells are obtained from the bone marrow. The most accessible area to get bone marrow is the back of the hip. For the procedure, the patient lies face down on the table. After the local anesthetic is administered, a special needle is inserted to withdraw marrow blood. The process is quite easily tolerated by most patients. The obtained bone marrow blood is processed in a centrifuge that spins the vial to separate the cells we want from other fluids. These cells are then injected into the injured area. The entire procedure is done in a single visit.
After stem cell therapy, patients may need to limit physical activity for a short time. The treatment does not work immediately, as the inserted cells need time to differentiate into the appropriate type of cell. When stem cell therapy is successful, patients typically begin to notice improved comfort in 6 to 8 weeks. This can depend on each person’s own healing mechanisms.