1. What are Stem Cells?
Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are cells that have the ability to transform into many different tissue types in the body. Their role is to repair and regenerate body tissues such as muscle, bone, cartilage, tendons, spine discs, skin and much more. To do this, they travel through the circulatory system to damaged cell tissues and regenerate/transform into the same cell type as the damaged tissue. The most abundant sources of mesenchymal stem cells in the body are found in adipose tissue (fat) and bone marrow.
The body’s natural regeneration system is always at work in our tissues, whether they are damaged or not. For example, your liver is entirely renewed every 2 to 3 years, and your pancreas every four years, and your skeleton every seven years. Because adult stem cells act as a repair system for the body, health professionals frequently use them in various medical therapies to accelerate the regeneration of damaged tissues and organs. Many researchers have published clinical studies on the orthopedic use of stem cells to treat musculoskeletal conditions. As to date, research has identified mesenchymal stem cells as the best type of stem cells for treating orthopaedic conditions.
2. How do Stem Cells work?
Stem Cells repair using five essential systems:
- Acting as an anti-inflammatory agent
- Traveling to injured tissues and stimulating cells that are essential for tissue development
- Supporting tissue regrowth over scar tissue formation
- Inhibiting apoptosis (Cell Death), Stimulating vasculorization
- Differentiating into cartilage, bone, muscle, ligament, tendons, etc.
3. How is Stem Cell therapy done?
Stem cell therapy consists of first extracting stem cells from bone marrow or fat. We then isolate the stem cells through the process of centrifugation. The physician injects the stem cells using image guidance directly into the desired target. Our clinic uses PRP combined with Stem Cells to enrich the blood supply to the damaged area. This consequently promotes tissue regeneration. The stem cells differentiate, depending on the type of tissue into which we inject them. For example, if we inject them into a ligament, they turn into ligament cells. If injected into a tendon, they become tendon cells. The stem cells release growth factors that trigger the regeneration and healing of the targeted tissues. For accuracy and safety, we recommend to do stem cell therapy using image guidance, strict aseptic techniques.
4. Is Stem Cell therapy safe?
Stem cell therapy is a safe treatment modality with few risks. A 2010 study of 227 patients over a 3-4-year time frame demonstrates the safety and low complication rate of stem cell therapy. The risks, side effects and recovery period are minimal. Although the risks are minimal, you should discuss them with your physician. Please note that orthopaedic stem cell therapy is not recommended for children and pregnant women, people who have a history of blood cancers or bone marrow cancer, or immunocompromised.
5. From where do Stem Cells come from?
The stem cell we use for regenerative treatment originate either from your bone marrow or fat tissue. Researchers are looking into new sources for mesenchymal stem cells, such as cells found in in the skin and dermis.
6. What are the benefits of Stem Cell Therapy?
The main advantages of stem cell therapy is the ability to regenerate the damaged tissue and reverse the disease process. This can achieve pain relief and improved function from an orthopaedic perspective.
Lipoaspirate Prolotherapy or Adipose-derived stem cell therapy is a regenerative injection treatment that stimulates repair of osteoarthritic cartilage and bone through the use of liposuction aspirates (fat stem cells). Discuss this option with your physician if this procedure is right for you.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions. Stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissues, and have shown promising results in treatments of various orthopaedic, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and autoimmune conditions.
Stem cells are present in all of us acting like a repair system for the body. However, with increased age sometimes the optimum amounts of stem cells are not delivered to the injured area. The goal of stem cell therapy is to amplify the natural repair system of the patient’s body.
Use of Stem Cells in Orthopaedics
The unique self-regeneration and differentiating ability of embryonic stem cells can be used in regenerative medicine. These stem cells can be derived from eggs collected during IVF procedures with informed consent from the patient. However, many questions have been raised on the ethics of destroying a potential human life for the treatment of another.
Adult stem cells are most commonly obtained from the bone marrow, specifically the mesenchymal stem cells, which have the ability to replicate into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. They can be obtained from the iliac crest of the pelvic bone by inserting a needle and extracting the stem cells from the bone marrow. This is done as a day procedure.
Currently, stem cell therapy is used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulder, knees, hips, and spine. They are also being used in the treatment of various soft tissue (muscle, ligaments and tendons) as well as bone-related injuries.
Ask your physician if stem cell therapy is right for you.