We see a lot of injuries and chronic joint pain in our Tulsa, OK clinic. Prolotherapy works great for many patients. PRP is definitely a little more potent and can help slightly more people. However, Stem Cell Therapy seems to be the coup de grace for some patients.
Patients have been told things like “you are bone on bone” or “your only option is surgery.” However, advances in regenerative injection techniques are proving these statements irrelevant in may cases. Countless patients are able to eliminate their pain and return to full function, without surgery in many cases.
Again, prolotherapy and PRP are excellent tools and very cost effective. The problem is that some patients have too much damage and degeneration requiring more aggressive therapy. The greater the injury or defect, the greater the need for a biological technique with a high regenerative capacity.
Why is Stem Cell Therapy so beneficial?
After an injury our body signals an inflammatory process in an attempt to repair damage. Inflammation is essential to this healing process. Unfortunately, we don’t always heal completely which may result in chronic pain and dysfunction. Prolotherapy and PRP do an excellent job at stimulating the inflammatory, healing process but they don’t provide any healing or regenerative resources.
The inflammatory process causes increased circulation, migration of regenerative cells into the damaged area, and a whole host of other effects. We want and need as many regenerative cells as possible into the damaged area. Fibroblasts increase collagen, osteoblasts increase bone, and chondroblasts increase cartilage. The problem is that we don’t always have enough of these blast type cells.
Many patients have simply degenerated too much through age, chronic injury, improper healing, and constant abuse. Patients where the knee joint is considered “bone on bone” is essentially the destruction of the intra-articular cartilage. This cartilage is extremely difficult to regenerate. Interestingly, Stem Cell therapy patients have experienced significant cartilage growth.
Stem Cell Therapy replicates and supplements the body’s natural response to trauma by stimulating revascularization and tissue regeneration. In fact, literature suggests that clinically successful healing can be achieved by concentrated bone marrow, particularly in healing impaired patients.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem Cell Therapy is essentially injecting concentrated stem cells into damaged areas in the body. These stem cells are a type of cell that are able to become different types of tissue. Injecting these undifferentiated cells gives the body that which it needs in order to optimize the healing process.
Basically, stem cell therapy helps stimulate the healing process as well as provides the building blocks needed for optimal tissue regeneration and healing.
Where do you get the Stem Cells?
There are actually several sources of Stem Cells. Amniotic stem cells are donated stem cells. They are harvested during c-section and processed. Amniotic stem cells have anti-inflammatory properties and various substances which provide lubrication to the joint.
Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC)
Bone marrow is one of the richest sources of stem cells. One of the many benefits is that it is autologous. This means that they are your own cells so there is no risk of a reaction or rejection.
The procedure is very simple and tolerated extremely well. The harvesting of the bone marrow takes just minutes and is easily performed in the office. Local anesthetic is typically all that is required.
Your adipose tissue (fat cells) also contains a good source of stem cells. But the type of stem cells are slightly different and the adipose tissue provides a ‘matrix’ for the stem cells. The matrix makes adipose an important component in a comprehensive stem cell therapy.
These cells are harvested quickly and easily, in most cases, in our office. This procedure is virtually painless.
How do you get the best results?
It is important to provide a comprehensive approach and give the body everything it needs in order to heal. Optimizing stem cell therapy requires making sure that you have the following:
- A matrix
- Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)
- Increased blood flow
Adipose tissue provides a great source of stem cells in addition to a high scaffolding content (matrix) but the regenerative capacity is less than that of bone marrow. Bone Marrow provides a high concentration of stem cells as well as high levels of cellular heterogeneity and regenerative capacity. PRP provides a high level of growth factors as well as high signaling capacity.
Optimal effects are obtained by combining PRP, bone marrow aspirate, and adipose tissue stem cells into one procedure.
Call our clinic today to schedule your evaluation to see if you are a good candidate for stem cell therapy.