Stem cell injections are used as a form of therapy in regenerative medicine, a branch of medicine that focuses on healing damaged tissues and organs. Stem cells are a special type of cell that can divide and split into nearly any type of cell. For example, pluripotent stem cells can become liver cells, heart cells, or brain cells. When directly injected into an injury, stem cells can promote healing at the cellular level. Stem cell therapy for knees, as an alternative to shoulder surgery, and as a remedy for chronic pain like that of Multiple Sclerosis is proving safe and effective in clinical trials. Issues like joint pain and both acute and chronic sport-related injuries may all benefit from the use of stem cell treatment.
Where Do Stem Cells Come From?
Stem cell treatments have some controversy around them because of the misconceptions about where stem cells come from. Embryos are never used, and they are not even close to being the only source of stem cells. The stem cells used in regenerative medicine can be harvested from live birth products willingly donated by healthy mothers or can be drawn from a patient’s own blood or bone marrow. Once the blood or bone marrow is drawn, the stem cells are separated from the blood to create a concentrate of stem cells. Stem cell therapy is sometimes combined with platelet-rich plasma treatments because each contains different growth factors.
Are Stem Cell Injections Effective?
There are many clinical studies on the use of stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine, and most of them show promising results for patients suffering from a wide variety of conditions. These include joint pain, lower back pain, tendon injuries, heart failure, stroke, MS, TBI, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, healthy aging, and more. In most cases, positive results were reported after only just one injection. MSC (mesenchymal signaling cell) stem cell treatments have been used for years in the form of bone marrow transplants, so it would follow that other types of stem cell therapies would also be effective at regenerating damaged tissues and/or cell functions. Because using stem cells for pain is such a safe way to treat pain and sometimes even eliminate its cause, stem cell therapy has a huge potential to change the face of pain and rehabilitation medicine.
Who Is Eligible for Stem Cell Treatment?
Stem cell therapy has shown to be beneficial for a wide variety of tissue conditions; it works as a torn tendon treatment, for vaginal rejuvenation or sexual dysfunction, as therapy for knee damage, and many more applications. In short, any condition that involves degeneration or inflammation of tissues, joints, or organs may benefit from the use of injections with stem cells. Virtually anyone can receive stem cell injections safely; since the injection fluid is made from the patient’s own body or a biocompatible outside source, there’s an extremely small chance of adverse reactions.
Do Stem Cell Injections Hurt?
One common question we’re often asked about regenerative medicine is “Are stem cell injections painful?” The answer to this question is often subjective and can vary from person to person. In general, a stem cell injection is no more painful than a normal shot. However, because regenerative medicine usually involves injecting a needle directly into an injured joint or tissue, there can be pain involved. At the Blatman Health and Wellness Center we can use medication and nitrous oxide to reduce the discomfort of the procedure. In general, musculoskeletal repair patients can expect some soreness lasting for a few days after the treatment as well. The best application for many other issues may be intravenous. In these cases there is usually only the discomfort of the IV. Whatever your needs, it should be noted that stem cell treatment is far less painful than surgical intervention for damaged joints or tendons. Yes, a stem cell injection or PRP treatment might be uncomfortable, but these natural and safe outpatient procedures have the potential to help your body heal the underlying issue. Traditional pain treatment regiments and most surgeries can’t claim any of those things.
What Conditions is Stem Cell Therapy Used For?
Stem cell therapies are used all throughout the world for a variety of different conditions. So far, stem cells have been used in clinical trials for multiple sclerosis, damaged organs, skin, tissue, nerves, corneas, and more. The current research suggests that stem cells are promising in the treatment of certain medical issues that cause chronic pain. More recently, it has been shown that a very special kind of stem cell called vSELS can be directed to the heart with a very special laser to treat heart failure and get people off the heart transplant list. In addition to medical use, some clinics use these cells for anti-aging purposes.
Is There a Difference Between Stem Cell Injections and PRP Therapy?
Yes – PRP therapy and stem cell therapy are different. But they do have a similar function. Stem cells are living cells that may be lab-grown, taken from live umbilical products, or harvested from your own body. The cells have regenerative properties and can be used by injection directly into an injury or damaged tissue, intravenously, or intrathecally. Once injected, the cells begin to duplicate and secrete many compounds that result in a healing response. On the other hand, PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma and is not as powerful. Blood is drawn from a vein in your arm, and plasma with platelets is concentrated by centrifuge. Platelets make the scab when you skin your knee, which makes you grow new blood vessels, nerves, and skin. When it is injected, its growth factors can help heal tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and even lungs. Both types of treatment have shown effectiveness in a variety of different medical conditions. And usually, stem cells have much more healing power than platelets. At the Blatman Health and Wellness Center, we have been helping people repair and restore with PRP and stem cells for more than 25 years. We have experience with lung issues, dementia, eye issues, autism, heart failure, spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and more.
Ask a Cincinnati Regenerative Medicine Doctor: Why use Stem Cells for Pain?
You might be wondering why stem cell therapy is such an attractive pain treatment to patients and medical professionals alike. Well, stem cell treatments have the potential to alleviate pain symptoms without the health risks that come with pharmaceuticals or invasive interventions. Even more, while surgeries either remove damage or artificially scaffold an issue, regenerative medicine like stem cell and PRP therapies have the potential to actually heal the issue naturally. The root cause of most pain in the body is a lifetime of injuries to the fascia that holds our bodies together. At the Blatman Health and Wellness Center, our focus for pain conditions is nutrition, and regeneration and repair of fascia. As this lifetime of fascia injuries begins to repair and heal, you will learn as we have, that pain medicine is not what we were taught and that most pain is not really coming from disc, spine, nerve, joint, and inflammation as we were taught. For many people, there is actually a way out of chronic pain without medication, surgery, cortisone, and killing your nerves. The pain is not in your head, and psychology cannot heal fascia injuries like PRP and stem cell treatments. As you heal from a lifetime of injuries, the pain will usually go away.
We use techniques of regenerative medicine because we believe the best healing is natural and comprehensive healing. We offer both stem cell and PRP treatments, and Dr. Blatman has seen great success in patients treated with either. If you’re thinking about stem cell therapy for painful knees, hips, shoulders, or any chronic pain you may have, give us a call to set up a consultation with Dr. Blatman.