Chris Johnson, who has played for the Tennessee Titans and the New York Jets, tore his meniscus early in the 2013 playing season. He opted for stem cell treatment to promote healing after undergoing surgery. Jamaal Charles, who plays for the Denver Broncos, tore his ACL in 2011 and again in 2015. After the second injury, he, too, opted for surgery combined with stem cell therapy to speed his recovery.
According to “Sports Illustrated,” more than 100 other players have also sought stem cell treatment for injuries, but athletes aren’t the only ones choosing these alternatives. In fact, many suffering from everything from osteoarthritis to labral tears are looking for minimally invasive regenerative medicine options to restore their comfort and joint health quickly and effectively.
Stem cells are multipotent cells, which means that they can differentiate, or develop, into many different highly specialized types of cells throughout the body, including tendon and muscle cells. They have a natural anti-inflammatory effect in the body and signal other cells to produce cartilage. In fact, it is these two characteristics that make stem cells such a promising area of research for regenerative medicine.
While early stem cell research tended to use embryonic stem cells, which were harvested from fetal tissue, modern research focuses on adult mesenchymal stem cells, which are harvested from a person’s own fat, blood, bone marrow and other tissues. During the minimally invasive procedure, the cells can be injected directly into your joints or bloodstream, and you can go back to work the next day. Because these cells contain your own DNA, there is no risk of rejection, and the entire process takes just a few hours.
Adipose tissue, or fat, is one of the best sources of these adult stem cells. Fat tissue contains up to 2,500 times more stem cells than bone marrow. The superior quality and quantity of these cells make them extremely effective when they are deployed in orthopedic treatments.
Orthopedic stem cell therapy can be used as an alternative or adjunct to surgery for many conditions, including:
Osteoarthritis of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee or ankle
Damaged cartilage in the joint
Torn muscles, ligaments or tendons
Other joint injuries and joint pain
If you suffer from joint pain or dysfunction or have had an injury, you might be a candidate for stem cell therapies. Patients often begin to see gradual improvements from stem cell therapy for arthritis in just a few weeks, and the benefits can last for years or permanently in some cases. Stem cells can be used instead of or in addition to surgery and can reduce the length of time you will need physical therapy or rehabilitation.
To find out if you may be a candidate, fill out our candidate form for a complimentary consultation.