Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis is gaining in popularity by practitioners but are the patients who get these injections seeing the results? My answer based on my patient population is about 50-50. Meaning about 50% of those getting injections note some improvement and the others don’t notice any change in pain relief from the injections. Stem cell injections are expensive and risky. However, I have recommended several patients try stem cell injections, but honestly I am still on the fence regarding these injections. I am ‘all-in’ on the concepts of regenerative medicine and I definitely see this as the future for osteoarthritis.

For years my ‘non-invasive’ approach to the treatment of osteoarthritis is using laser (TheraLase, LightForce), PiezoWave (Acoustic waves therapy), EnPuls (shock wave therapy), LymphaTouch lymphatic therapy, SCENAR (Russian therapy), localized vibration and percussion devices (Deep Muscle Stimulator, Rapid Release Therapy), nutrition, supplements, diet and gentle movement exercise for achieving similar results to the stem cell regenerative medicine concepts.

  • Certain supplements, shockwave therapy and exercise have a high chondrogenic capability (the ability to make cartilage) without the risks of injections.
  • The non-invasive approach is a safe treatment strategy.
  • Laser for treatment of osteoarthritis patients has no side effects.
  • Laser by itself, EnPuls by itself, help the cells undergo high rates of proliferation.
  • PiezoWave by itself decreases pain and increases circulation.
  • LymphaTouch has immunosuppressive actions because it stimulates the lymphatic system.
  • All of the above (laser, shockwave, supplements and exercise) modalities can produce anti-inflammatory effects, and pro-regenerative properties.

My take home message to you is that it’s important to pick the right therapy for you and we can discuss the benefits of stem cell injections versus the natural anti-inflammatory and pro-regenerative devices at the same time.

1 Kopka M, Bradley JP. The Use of Biologic Agents in Athletes with Knee Injuries. J Knee Surg. 2016 May 20. [Epub ahead of print]

2 Filardo G, Perdisa F, Roffi A, Marcacci M, Kon E. Stem cells in articular cartilage regeneration. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research. 2016;11:42. doi:10.1186/s13018-016-0378-x.

3 Yang X, Zhu TY, Wen LC, Cao YP1, Liu C, Cui YP, Meng ZC, Liu H. Intraarticular Injection of Allogenic Mesenchymal Stem Cells has a Protective Role for the Osteoarthritis. Chin Med J (Engl). 2015 20th Sep;128(18):2516-2523. doi: 10.4103/0366-6999.164981.

  1. Nyland J, Mattocks A, Kibbe S, Kalloub A, Greene JW, Caborn DNM. Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, rehabilitation, and return to play: 2015 update.Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;7:21-32. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S72332.

5 Shapiro SA, Kazmerchak SE, Heckman MG, Zubair AC, O’Connor MI, A Prospective, Single-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate for Knee Osteoarthritis. Am J Sports Med. 2017 Jan;45(1):82-90. doi: 10.1177/0363546516662455. Epub 2016 Sep 30.

6 Burke J, Hunter M, Kolhe R, Isales C, Hamrick M, Fulzele S. Therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cell based therapy for osteoarthritis. Clinical and Translational Medicine. 2016;5:27. doi:10.1186/s40169-016-0112-7. 2



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