What is Stem Cell Therapy?

In this article, Physio Logic Spine & Sports Interventional Pain Medicine Specialist and Anesthesiologist, Tanuj Palvia, MD describes Stem Cell Therapy, how it works, and the several applications that our Regenerative Medicine team utilizes in treating patients at Physio Logic.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?
What is Stem Cell Therapy? This diagram shows stem cell differentiation.

Let’s start from the beginning. What is Regenerative Medicine?

You may have heard about Regenerative Medicine but, it may still be unclear what that means. Regenerative Medicine takes advantage of our body’s ability to heal itself through the use of healthy regenerative cells found throughout the body. One of the most common forms of regenerative cells is stem cells (which we will explain below). Various studies, in the lab and in a clinical setting, have shown stem cell therapy to be a safe and effective use of regenerative medicine.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy is an injection treatment designed to heal injuries and reduce pain. Stem cell therapy can be used in the treatment of arthritis and injury to ligaments, tendons, cartilage, or bone. This form of therapy uses your own stem cells as a building block in order to mimic other damaged cells located in the joint. By doing this, your new stem cells are able to work to regenerate the damaged tissue therefore reducing pain and working to heal injuries and damage to your tissue.

What Exactly is a Stem Cell?

Stem cells are the only cells in the body able to change into other types of specialized cells. Stem cells are found in many parts of the body but are concentrated in the bone marrow. The two types of stems cells you may have heard of are embryonic stem cells and human adult stem cells. The major difference between these two cells is their potential to differentiate or morph into specific cells (skin cells, blood cells, bone cells, etc.).

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, in other words their future is wide open. They are able to become any type of cell in the human body. Human adult stem cells on the other hand are multipotent. They have the possibility to differentiate into only specific cells. Because of this, utilizing adult stem cells for regenerative treatment is a much better bet. Using your own stem cells is an even better bet.

How Does it Work?

Through a simple and nearly painless 30 minute office procedure, your stem cells are obtained from your pelvic (hip) bone. The practitioner then concentrates the stem cells approximately 7-10 fold in a special centrifuge. The stem cells are then injected back into the patient’s site of injury or damage with ultrasound or imaging guidance. When your stem cells are injected into the damaged area, they amplify the body’s own natural repair efforts by reducing inflammation, accelerating healing, and preventing scarring and loss of function. You are able to leave at the conclusion of the procedure!

How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Me?

The regenerative power of stem cells can be very effective in a variety of treatments ranging from arthritis to joint injuries. Some common applications are the treatment of osteoarthritis, partial to complete ligament tears, rotator cuff tears, and augmented ACL or PCL reconstruction.

Stem cell therapy may be right for you if you have experienced other therapies, medications, or injections that haven’t been effective or if you have been told you may need surgery but, don’t want to go under the knife. A knowledgeable Regenerative Medicine team will provide patients access to the most advanced treatment options with proven results.

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