We have all heard of that all too familiar story of the epic powder day that’s ruined when a ski gets turned the wrong way, and the skier feels a pop in their knee followed by pain, swelling and a toboggan ride down to the nearest MRI scanner. The pop is a result of the rupture or partial rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament – ACL tear. Similarly, mountain bikers, water skiers and other intensive summer enthusiasts can face a similar season-ending injury in the blink of an eye. Stem cell therapy for ACL tears has now been changing how the injured ligament may be treated and repaired.
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Traditional & Modern Options for ACL Repair
Until recently, the next decision for the patient was typically – should I schedule my surgery now or later? When considering this decision, one must understand the long-term ramifications of a surgical repair. Studies have shown that 2/3rds of patients that have undergone ACL surgery will experience significant arthritis in the repaired joint years later. This may be due to the introduction of a new ligament that is not at the exact angle of the native ligament. This potentially changes the physics of joint motion causing expedited arthritic changes.
There is now another choice to be considered that can get you back to your passion in a fraction of the time, with less long term risks of knee arthritis. Stem cells from your own body injected into the damaged knee ligament are quickly changing the way we look at these season ending ACL tears in the knee. This choice consists of a minimally invasive 3-hour procedure, requiring no general anesthesia and a far less painful recovery.
Candidates for Stem Cell Therapy for ACL Tears
When an ACL ruptures or tears, it is often only a partial tear with the outer sheath remaining intact, or only minimally retracted, which leaves the ligament still mostly in place. When this is the case, stem cell therapy for ACL injury can be an excellent means of repairing the damaged knee ligament. This state-of-the-art procedure allows the patient to return to some forms of exercise within several weeks and back to full activity within several months.
Stem Cell Injections for the Knee
A patient’s best chance of a successful knee recovery depends on the accurate delivery of an ample volume of stem cells to the injured ligament. The largest source of stem cells in one’s body is found in adipose (fat) tissue. With the use of a very high tech liposuction device to painlessly harvest the stem cells, a small amount of fat tissue is typically taken from the lower abdomen or flanks through a pair of tiny incisions. Bone marrow is additionally harvested from the iliac crest and is a rich source of growth factors and also contributes a small amount of stem cells as well. The regenerative solutions are consolidated using a multi-phase centrifugation process and concentrated for the knee stem cell injection. During the injection, the stem cells are placed into the ligament under real time x-ray imaging. A needle is placed into the ACL sheath and contrast is injected to verify the proper location. The cells and growth factors are then injected into the damaged ligament as well as into other areas of the injured joint space.
After the Stem Cell Procedure for the Knee
The patient is discharged from ThriveMD’s Vail, CO facility the same day. They walk out on their own, with very little discomfort. Patients can typically return to work and daily activities within a day or two. Light non-impact, non-twisting activities can resume in approximately four weeks. The ligament can be potentially repaired in as little as 8-12 weeks and continues to improve over the course of 6-12 months.
What Patients Say
Results of stem cell therapy for ACL tear are commonly described by patients themselves. The following stem cell review was left on Facebook by a Vail, Colorado local who used stem cells to return to skiing:
“Early in the ski season I had a partial tear in my ACL and thought I would be out until the next year for sure. However after consulting with Thrive MD they informed me that I was a good candidate for stem cell therapy. I went through the procedure and went from barely being able to walk with crutches to walking comfortably and normally within three weeks! I was back at work quickly and just got back on the mountain recently. My knee feels very solid and I have ZERO issues with it. Thank you Thrive MD for saving my ski season!“