As an M.D. who has specialized in Non-Surgical Regenerative Orthopedics for fifteen years I am excited about injecting a s own stem cells to rebuild their damaged joints. The approach of using injections to rebuild joints has been used for many years and is known as Prolotherapy (prolo stands for proliferation of joint tissue as well as supportive ligaments and tendons). What is new is the capacity to inject a s own stem cells, which greatly enhances the stimulus to healing.
This nonsurgical stem cell approach is very safe and has about a 80% success rate for such common conditions as bone-on-bone osteoarthritis of the knee and hip, lumbar and cervical disc problems, rotator cuff, sports injuries and many other conditions. To optimize results it is important to find a good Regenerative Orthopedic specialist who is experienced in Regenerative injections and can properly diagnose what structures are damaged and then precisely inject the required area. Unfortunately, MRI often misses many of the structural problems and a detailed physical exam is by far the most important diagnostic modality.
The stem cells, known as adult mesenchmal stem cells, are harvested from a s own body fat, usually around the abdomen, with a gentle mini liposuction technique. The fat is then enzymatically digested, releasing the stem cells and then mixed with the PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) isolated from a simple blood draw. The stem cells with the PRP are then injected in and around the damaged joint or region (The stem cells can be considered as the seed while the PRP is the fertilizer). The whole procedure can be done in the office and takes about three to four hours. Sometimes the stem cell treatments can be augmented with PRP booster treatments to reignite the stem cells and get maximal proliferation of new cartilage, bone, ligaments and tendons. Once the stem cells are injected in the proper area, they have a built-in capacity to hone in on the damaged region.
Regenerative Orthopedics with stem cells represents the most powerful non-surgical approach we have to heal damaged joints and structures. Due to the minimal risk and downtime, I believe that this approach may eventually become the treatment of choice for many orthopedic problems. This truly is the medicine of the future!