Stem cell treatment for knees can be very effective. The process uses your own stem cells to heal your body. This innovative treatment option offers various benefits. It is safe and highly effective without risk of side effects or rejection. It is important to know what to expect. For those who are considering it, doctors will provide key information you need.
What You Need To Know About Stem Cell Treatment For Knees
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are a building block in the body. These cells are very valuable. They are unlike other cells in the body. Most cells have the ability to do one job. Stem cells differ, because they can become any other cell in the body. They can also replicate themselves to create new stem cells. As a result, they can help fix problem areas. Stem cell treatment is a form of self-healing.
Why Stem Cells Are a Treatment for Knees
When a person falls and injures his or her knee, several bodily mechanisms are engaged to heal the immediate injury. However, there are often side effects too, such as inflammation and scarring (fibrosis). As a result, you may feel knee pain. You may also develop chronic knee pain or mobility issues.
However, stem cells have the potential to fix these damaged areas. One way stem cells heal knee pain is by differentiating into new, healthy cells. The result is healthy, new tissue. A second way is my indirect (paracrine) effects, such as reducing inflammation and scarring at the site of injury.
Where do these stem cells come from? The answer is simple. They come from you. Your body has stem cells throughout it. Stem cells are present in large quantities within your bone marrow, peripheral blood, and fat (adipose) tissue. There are also stem cells within your molars (dental pulp), brain, liver, mammary glands, and more.
Most commonly, doctors source stem cells from bone marrow or perform a liposuction to extract them from your fat tissue.
After extracting your stem cells, a physician will introduce the cells to your site of injury, in this case, your knee. This allows the cells to repair the damaged tissue.
Cell types like mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can exert powerful therapeutics effects when they are administered to a site of injury, most commonly reducing inflammation and scarring (fibrosis). The result is, your knee pain goes away.
Stem Cell Treatment for Knees: When Can It Help?
Research is still rather new in this area. However, stem cells for knee treatments are increasing in number. Today, doctors are using stem cells to treat a wide range of conditions, including:
- Baker’s cysts
- Knee instability
- ACL and LCL sprains or tears
- MCL and PCL tears or sprains
- Arthritis, including osteoarthritis
- Meniscus tears
- Patellar tendonitis
- Damage to the cartilage in the knee and much more
Individuals who have knee pain should reach out to a doctor to learn more about treatment options.
Is Stem Cell Therapy for the Knees Safe?
— Boulder Sports Med (@BoulderInst) May 14, 2018
Many people worry about the safety of stem cell procedures, because the FDA has had to send warning letters to some stem cell clinics. However, provided by the right physician, stem cell therapy can be a relatively safe procedure. Importantly, the market leader in orthopedic applications of stem cells (Regenexx) has collected large quantities of patient data in a patient registry.
Additionally, autologous (“self-derived”) stem cells are from your own body, which minimizes the risk of negative reactions. Your body will recognize them. It will not mount an immune reaction.
However, there are some risks. This is true of any type of medical procedure. There is the risk of infection.
In some cases, researchers will grow and culture stem cells outside of the body. This increases the number of stem cells, but it also means that the cells have been “more than minimally-manipulated.” Minimally manipulated is a term that the U.S. FDA uses to determine whether a stem cell product must go through a clinical trial to be administered to human patients.
Therefore, it can be helpful to ask a potential treatment provider how he or she will manipulate your cells after extracting them from you. You can also ask if they are in compliance with current FDA guidelines for human cell and tissue-based products (HCT/Ps). If your physician can thoughtfully answer these questions, that is a good sign.
It is also best practice to search online for the name of your treatment provider to read reviews. This will also tell you if he or she has received a warning letter from the U.S. FDA or Department of Justice (DOJ), because FDA letters tend to rank high in Google Search results.
For example, the U.S. FDA recently filed federal complaints seeking “permanent injunctions to stop two stem cell clinics from marketing stem cell products without FDA approval and for significant deviations from current good manufacturing practice requirements.” The first FDA injunction was against US Stem Cell Clinic LLC and the other was for the California Stem Cell Treatment Center.
How Successful Is Stem Cell Treatment for Knees?
How effective is it? Many factors play a role in whether or not it is effective. Some people see results sooner than others. Most people will need multiple treatments. Research in this area continues. Methods are improving as well. The degree of the knee damage is a key concern. Additionally, the quality and number of stem cells available play a role in effectiveness.
Where the stem cells come from matters, too. The healthier the stem cells, the better. Younger stem cells may have some advantages as well.
Additionally, the type of stem cell can matter. Today, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are the most common stem cell type to be used to treat knee pain. MSCs are also used for a wide range of other orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions. There are now 800+ clinical trials listed at ClinicalTrials.gov that use MSCs in the treatment protocol.
Other types of stem cells also exist, such as hematopoietic stem cells, neural stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells, but these cell types tend to be used for other applications.
Should You Consider Stem Cells for Knee Pain?
If you have knee pain, stem cell treatment can be helpful. Most people will benefit from it for several reasons.
- It is generally not painful. It is an outpatient procedure.
- There are few risks and long-term complications.
- When effective, stem cells can help restore natural function.
- The effectiveness of the doctor also matters. Choose a specialist. Be sure he or she has ample experience with knee treatment.
- Learn how doctors will harvest the stem cells. How will they separate stem cells from other tissue?
It is important to speak to a specialist here. Gather as much information as possible. Be sure your doctor answers all of your questions. Most importantly, look for a location that is continually researching stem cell technology and gathering patient data. The most up-to-date data and tools are essential.
Knee treatment is available through many stem cell therapy providers. However, it is advisable to choose those specializing in orthopedic applications of stem cells, such as Regenexx. Regenexx has determined that an ACL tear where the two parts are separated by less than an inch may be a candidate for its needle-based stem cell procedure.
Stem Cells for Knees
In 2014, our Founder and CEO Cade Hildreth, was treated with stem cells for a knee injury. Cade’s procedure was performed by Dr. Mayo Friedlis at the National Spine and Pain Center in Fairfax, VA. Dr. Friedlis is part of a group called Stem Cell Arts, which has locations in McLean, VA, and Chevy Chase, MD.
To comply with FDA standards, the procedure was a same-day, self-derived, minimally manipulated procedure.
In this procedure, bone marrow derived stem cells were extracted from Cade’s hip and re-injected into the knee.
What Are Stem Cell Therapy Costs for Knees?
Costs differ based on location and doctor specialization. Some people only need a single treatment with other need several treatments. Costs per treatment typically range from $1,500 to $5,000.
How successful is stem cell treatment for knees? Watch this video from WTAE-TV Pittsburgh documenting one patient’s procedure:
Stem cell treatment for knee pain can be beneficial. Many people appreciate it as a minimally invasive treatment option. In many cases, it can be an alternative to invasive surgical procedures. It can also help with most types of pain, both chronic and acute.
Share your thoughts about stem cell treatment for knees in the comments section below.