As a Stem Cell Orthopedic specialist I often get asked how viscosupplements compare to Stem Cell Therapy. They are both nonsurgical, minimally invasive options that should be carefully considered by any patient with serious Osteoarthritis of the knee before they capitulate and have replacement surgery. In my opinion, Patients owe it to themselves to fully explore the nonsurgical options before they commit to knee replacement; once they have the surgery, there is no going back!
One big advantage to Viscosupplements is they are covered by insurance while Stem Cells are still too new and probably will take some years before they are approved by insurance companies. The good thing about both Viscosupplements and Stem Cells is they are safe and at least will do no harm. Their main drawback is they may not work. In the case of Stem Cells a patient runs the risk of spending some money and having less-than-satisfactory results.
However there are a couple of significant advantages to the stem cell option. First and foremost, stem cells can are intended as a long-term solution to knee pain. Since the stem cells have the capacity to structurally rebuild a joint, once this has been achieved, the improvements can be both significant and long-lasting. Hyaluronic acid is only intended as a temporary relief. It is also true that stem cells, if prepared and administered properly, can rebuild the whole joint including the capsule and surrounding ligaments and tendons as well as the cartilage whereas HA is only directed to lubricating the joint surface and perhaps helps to shore up the degenerated and damaged cartilage.
So what do I tell patients? In my opinion stem cells may give a far superior and long-lasting outcome for the patient suffering from serious knee OA. However I understand completely if a patient prefers to start with a service that their insurance covers. The only thing I ask is if and when the viscosupplement option falls short or fails, the patient should seriously consider the stem cell option.
A patient’s own stem cells are a powerful and perfectly safe medicine that certainly can address knee OA in a very elegant manner. With a good stem cell specialist we have about an 80% success rate for long-term pain relief for knee OA. In my view, stem cells are the medicine of the future and are destined to revolutionize the way we practice medicine today.
About Mark Walter, M.D.: Dr. Walter is a pioneer in the field of Stem Cell Orthopedics and considered one of Florida’s top stem cell injection specialists. He has specialized in the field of Regenerative Orthopedics for over 15 years, written and lectured extensively on the field, and helped many thousands of patients with regenerative injections. Dr. Walter is particularly recognized for his skill at diagnosing important connective tissue “pain-generators” and precisely injecting just the “right spots”. He is McGill trained and a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Medicine. Dr. Walter is founder of RegenOrtho where he partners with Kristen Comella, the #24 stem cell scientist in the world, to bring his patients the very latest and best stem cell technology available. For more information or to book a consultation, please call (941) 955-4325.