What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cells are cells that can grow into different types of cells depending on the environment they are placed.  In humans there are two types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.  In a developing embryo, stem cells eventually differentiate into the cells that make up the body.  Adult stem cells are found in bone marrow, fat, and blood and act as a repair system for the body.  Stem cell therapy involves harvesting adult stem cells and introducing them into an area where repair and or healing is desired.

What conditions are treated with stem cell therapy?

Bone marrow transplant in the treatment of blood cancers and other disorders is the most common use of stem cell therapy and currently umbilical cord blood derived stem cells used in this manner are the only FDA approved stem cell application.  That being said there are many potential uses for stem cell therapy in treating disease.  From strokes & brain injuries to wound care, heart disease, diabetes, and various genetic diseases, there are several promising areas in which stem cell therapy may be beneficial.  In sports medicine and orthopedics, stem cell therapy has shown promise in the treatment of osteoarthritis, ligament abnormalities, and tendon injuries.

How is stem cell therapy performed?

In sports medicine and orthopedics, stem cells are obtained from bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue, or blood. Depending on the system used, this collection is then processed to isolate the stem cells from the other components or concentrated and then injected into the site of injury under ultrasound guidance.

Is stem cell therapy effective?

The evidence for stem cell therapy in treating arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions is mixed.  There are several anecdotal and case report based studies that show decreased joint pain and improved function with stem cell therapy.  However, at this point there is not enough evidence to make this treatment a routine component of musculoskeletal medicine.  One thing studies have shown is that with autologous (from the patient’s own body) applications, it is considered a relatively low-risk treatment with the potential to improve or speed healing.

For questions regarding Stem Cell Therapy,
please call 425-286-8271 or email frontdesk@maksportsmd.com