What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are found in various tissues throughout the body, such as bone marrow and fat. They are capable of renewing themselves through cell division. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are pluripotent, meaning they have the ability to differentiate into many types of tissues. This ability has generated promise of potential treatment for chronic injury, specifically for cartilage cells (chondrocytes).
Where are the Stem Cells obtained from?
Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) is the safest and most feasible source of MSC. It can be extracted from various sites, most typically from the posterior superior iliac crest. This can be done with minimal pain in the office under only local anesthesia. Once collected, it is concentrated through centrifugation, similar to platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and injected back into the injured area.
Will Stem Cells restore my arthritic joint?
There are studies for arthritic disease reporting improvements in pain and function, but few controlled trials. Like PRP, stem cell therapy has proven to be safe and well-tolerated (without serious side effects) in multiple studies, including patient-blinded, placebo-controlled trials. FDA draft guidance advises that same day concentration of BMAC without additives is safe. Currently there is no evidence that Stem Cell therapy using any of the available methods regenerates cartilage or cures arthritis, however studies do demonstrate improvement in pain for at least a year in a large percentage of patients.
Is Stem Cell therapy for joint pain safe?
This treatment is considered investigational, as the efficacy and mechanism of action are still to be completely understood. As of now, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet deemed it effective and thus, it is not covered by standard health insurances. This is a treatment option for those who have failed all other conservative first-line treatments and/or are not ideal surgical candidates. While the hope is that these may stimulate regeneration of cartilage in arthritic joints, this is unproven but early studies do demonstrate a reduction of pain in degenerative joints for up to one year.
Dr. Moore is highly experienced in Stem Cell therapy and committed to appropriate and safe use of this promising treatment.