What Is Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is an innovative, minimally invasive treatment that is part of the growing field known as regenerative medicine. From musculoskeletal conditions caused by sports injuries and overuse, to systemic diseases with severe progression such as MS or COPD, adult stem cell procedures can give your body the potential to heal itself naturally.
What Are Stem Cells
Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells capable of differentiating into specialized cells in your body and dividing to produce more cells. Their ability to multiply and morph into various types of cells is what makes them so valuable. As the process happens over time, stem cell patients typically feel results improve month by month.
One particular type of stem cell that is abundant in your own body is the adult stem cell – with the main role to repair and replace damaged tissue. To sum up, stem cells are important because they have three main properties:
1. They can divide and renew themselves for extended periods of time.
2. They can morph into specialized cell types.
3. They are unspecialized – which allows them to be a blank slate for morphing into specialized cells.
Definition of Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy, also referred to as stem cell treatment or cell therapy, helps the body repair itself naturally. The cells neutralize inflammation and accelerate healing. They have the potential to regenerate injured cartilage tissue, tendons, bone, muscle, ligaments and vertebral annular disc cartilage. Stem cell therapy is also playing a role in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
To regenerate your body, stem cells find the damaged tissue and have the potential to initiate its repair or regeneration. The cells can stimulate your body’s own natural healing processes. This technique begins by harvesting a patient’s own stem cells found in both adipose (fat) tissue and bone marrow, concentrating the cells into a small injectable volume, and then reintroducing the cells into the area of concern. This process stimulates the body to repair and replace tissue that has broken down over time or has been traumatized from injury, overuse, or systemic disease.
Dr. Scott Brandt, medical director at Colorado’s ThriveMD, is one of the few select physicians in the country to be trained in the groundbreaking technique that is saving many patients from undergoing invasive joint replacement surgery, spinal fusion surgery, and other invasive surgical procedures.
Where Do Adult Stem Cells Come From
Adult stem cells are autologous, i.e. harvested from your own body as a part of your stem cell procedure. They are undifferentiated cells found among differentiated cells within the body. Their primary role is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are located.
Adult stem cells are found in the highest concentration in adipose (fat) tissue. In smaller concentrations, they are additionally found in your bone marrow. Beyond what is used for harvesting, stem cells are also found in blood, skin, muscles, and organs.
Orthopaedic Conditions Treated by Adult Stem Cells
Joint and soft tissue injuries can be treated by stem cell therapy. The potential for improved function is often seen in conditions such as chronic osteoarthritis as well as acute injuries such as partial ligament and tendon tears. Stem cells can potentially improve post surgical recovery times and are quickly becoming a viable alternative to joint replacement surgery.
Severe knee, hip or shoulder pain are commonly treated conditions at ThriveMD’s facilities in Vail and Aspen, Colorado. Patients with wrist and all other joint pain, such as golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, can also be candidates for joint pain relief with stem cell therapy.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) causes lower back pain that can potentially utilize stem cell therapy to treat lumbar discs and be an alternative to spinal fusion surgery for discogenic low back pain. In the lumbar disc, studies have shown that stem cells improve hydration, decrease inflammation and improve disc height.
Facet joint pain, or central back pain resulting from events such as a whiplash injury, is often caused by damage to the facet joints which are found in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. Like other joint damage, facet joints can be treated with stem cells.
Autoimmune Conditions Treated by Adult Stem Cells
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease which is currently treated by medication that inhibits the body’s own immune system. Stem cells may have the potential to slow or halt progression of the symptoms such as multiple sclerosis. In the US, stem cell procedures for MS are in experimental stages, and patients may have the opportunity to treat their MS in Colorado. ThriveMD is participating in a patient-funded clinical trial.
COPD is a group of progressive systemic pulmonary diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In severe stages, invasive treatments such as lung transplants are currently used. Stem cell treatment has been showing promising results in treating these diseases. The goal is to potentially slow, halt and improve symptoms. ThriveMD is participating in a patient-funded clinical trial.
There are many other systemic diseases that may soon be treated with stem cell therapy, and Diabetes Type II serves as an example.
Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy
No risk of rejection – autologous stem cells are harvested from and reintroduced into your own body.
No cummunicable disease transmission.
Minimally invasive – stem cell treatments are minimally invasive, in strong contrast to traditional treatments such as joint replacement. The procedures are out-patient and performed in approximately 3 hours. Patients generally do not require any post operative pain medication.
No general anesthesia – due to the minimally invasive character, only mild oral medications are necessary.
Fast recovery – stem cell therapy patients can return to work in 1-2 days and do typically not require bracing or crutches.
Harvesting Biologics for A Stem Cell Procedure
1. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is harvested through a peripheral blood draw.
2. Bone marrow is obtained from a patient’s iliac crest under live x-ray guidance. The cells are then concentrated using a centrifuge process. Local anesthetic is utilized.
3. Adipose (fat) tissue is obtained through a brief liposuction procedure. Adipose tissue is the most abundant source of adult stem cells. It has the highest concentration of stem cells per volume (about 1,000 times as much as bone marrow).
ThriveMD believes patient goals are best achieved by using a combination of all three above mentioned biologics.
A patient’s specific stem cell procedure will be decided upon during a one-on-one consultation at the clinic. Below is a brief general guideline of what to expect.
2. Stem cell harvest and separation
3. Stem cell injection
4. Regenerative process – begins within the first 3 months, continues for up to 1 year.
5. Follow-up treatment -4 weeks after the initial injection, patients return to ThriveMD for a PRP and/or bone marrow injection. This booster provides additional growth factors and/or cells to support the ongoing healing process.
Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed at our office as an out-patient procedure.
A stem cell patient’s personal experience at ThriveMD has been written by Cordillera Life Magazine. The patient used stem cells to avoid hip replacement surgery and relieve lower back pain.
What Stem Cell Patients Say
“Best medical decision I ever made! The stem cell procedure is quick, easy and has no recovery down time! Great alternative to surgery if that is an option. Dr. Brandt and his team are first class. I highly recommend them as your first choice!”
“The injections in soft tissue of left replaced knee have made a Huge difference. The right knee is continuing to get better noticeably each week. Everything I do is getting easier because I’m not in constant pain. I never want another knee replacement. My experience with Thrive has been enjoyable.”
ThriveMD is thrilled to be Colorado’s leading stem cell therapy facility. If you believe you could be a candidate, or to find out what exactly stem cells can help you with, please contact us today.