An Overview of Regenerative Medicine with Stem Cell Injections
What is a stem cell injection?
As technology continues to progress there has been more and more attention paid to the restoration of the natural body instead of replacing injured pieces or masking the symptoms of pain.
Stem cells produced by the bone marrow are cells that have not yet been assigned a role. They can be formed into any type of cell the body needs, including skin cells, muscle cells, bone, cartilage, or any number of specialized cells the body functions with.
Many times, the damage done in an area of cartilage is permanent only because the body cannot fully repair these areas alone. This is often due to the reduced, or nonexistent, blood flow to the area. Utilizing the means to direct stem cells into these areas will allow people to potentially regrow missing cartilage thereby repairing musculoskeletal injuries that could otherwise be permanent.
What will stem cell injections treat?
Many of the current stem cell injections under scrutiny are still in the testing stage, with efforts being made to prove their validity for widespread use. It is theoretically possible to have an injection into any damaged joint and have the stem cells morph into the necessary cells to repair the damage.
Stem cell injections are now being used in musculoskeletal medicine to treat arthritic joints, sports injuries and damaged tendons and ligaments. This includes epicondylitis such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, damaged ACL or collateral ligaments, rotator cuff tendonitis and more.
How is a stem cell injection performed?
There are two main ways stem cells are currently gathered for use in the treatment of patients.
Amniotic stem cells are gathered from the amniotic fluid that is normally disposed of after birth. This fluid can be taken to a laboratory where the stem cells can be carefully extracted and produced as a biologic injectable. These cells are carefully screened to ensure there are no lingering diseases prior to their use.
The injection to be used will consist of amniotic stem cells, anti-inflammatory agents, and hyaluronic acid to assist in the pain relief and tissue regeneration of the joint. One particular note about amniotic injections is there has yet to be a report of a host/graft complication.
Self-stem cells are gathered from the bone marrow of the patient to be made into an injectable for that patient only. There is also a process to derive them from the fat reserves of the body, where a concentrated bundle of stem cells will be harvested from a fat sample.
PRP – The third method of harvesting self-stem cells is to acquire them through a platelet procedure, more commonly known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. While this PRP method does not have a large concentration of stem cells by itself, it has the unique ability of calling them from other locations of the body into the damaged area to assist in the stimulation of tissue regeneration.
How well do stem cell injections work?
The most effective method for the application of stem cells remains an unknown at this point. There are a number of studies being conducted on each of the stem cell types, as well as which type may provide the better benefit for a patient.
While PRP as a stem cell treatment has been successful venture, there are a number of other components beyond stem cells in the injectable. The exact contribution of stem cells compared to the growth factors of the blood remains unknown.
Small studies have shown impressive results with regenerative medicine injections for arthritis, ligament injury and tendonitis such as with tennis elbow.
What is the bottom line with stem cell injections?
The current risks of these procedures remain unknown as the studies are still in progress. The bottom line with these is that they are still being researched, and in many cases the potential treatments remain only as experimental procedures. Therefore, they are not covered by insurance.
If you live in the Greater Tampa area and would like to discuss your options for regenerative medicine stem cell injection options for pain relief, let Tampa pain clinics help you.
Simply call (813) 666-4399 or fill out the contact form on the page today!