FAQ’s on Stem Cell Therapy

FAQ’s on Stem Cell Therapy

A new exciting treatment being used by pain management physicians, orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists is stem cell therapy. This treatment can benefit people with damaged, injured, or degenerative body joints, regions, structures, or tissues.

Do stem cells grow into desired types of cells?

Called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), these cells are capable of growing into many types of cells. The type of cells that stem cells become is determined by the microenvironment of the targeted tissue. If the stem cell solution is placed into a joint, then chondrocytes (cartilage cells) or bone cells form. New scientific research studies show that stem cells prompt the localized stem cells in the body via excretion of cytokines, which regenerates defective tissue.

Are implanted stem cells capable of uncontrolled growth?

Mesenchymal stem cells will not grow this way. The targeted tissue controls how the implanted stem cells react and behave. The stem cells secrete growth factors and cytokines, which help the body repair itself.

How are adult stem cells different from embryonic stem cells?

Adult stem cells (ASCs) are derived from adipose (fat) tissue, bone marrow, amniotic fluid, or blood. Embryonic stem cells come from a human embryo (unborn tiny baby). The use of embryonic stem cells is controversial and raises many ethical questions. Most practitioners use autologous ASCs (come from the patient’s own body).

Do amniotic fluid stem cells come from embryos?

When a doctor uses a woman’s amniotic fluid, it has been donated to the stem cell bank. This fluid is discarded after Cesarean births. The baby is formed, born, and not harmed when the amniotic fluid is collected.

What parts of the body are treated with adipose-derived stem cells?

Stem cell-enriched autologous fat is used for many treatment procedures. Because these stem cells are capable of forming bone, cartilage, tendon, and ligament tissue, they can be used to treat torn rotator cuffs, joint arthritis, tears of knee ligaments, spinal arthritis, and more.

What are the benefits of stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy has been known to delay or prevent the need for surgery. The procedure is very safe, and because the patient’s bone marrow, fat tissue, or blood is used, there is no risk for allergic reaction. The procedure is simple, minimally invasive, and you are back to work and usual activities the next day.

What is the difference between stem cells derived from bone marrow and those that come from fat tissue?

Adipose tissue must be obtained via liposuction technique. This involves making a small incision over the abdomen, chin, arm, buttock, or thigh, inserting a tiny cannula, and gently removing thick, liquid fat tissue. To obtain bone marrow stem cells, the doctor must aspirate tissue from the iliac crest ( a portion of the hip bone). Both procedures involve some discomfort, but a local anesthetic is used to alleviate pain.

How can the doctor know the stem cells go to the right place?

During the injection, the pain management specialist will use fluoroscopy (real-time x-ray) to visualize the site of injury, inside the joint, or the damaged tendon/ligament. This way, he is assured that the treatment is accurate and effective.

Are stem cell injections approved by the FDA?

At present, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate biological materials. Because the treatment involves injecting natural biologic solution, no regulations or laws exists. However, physicians do follow FDA regulations regarding laboratory practices and patient safety.

Is stem cell therapy effective?

In a cases series involving four patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers evaluated their treatment with autologous MSCs. In all patients, visual analog pain scores and the number of stairs each could climb improved. Researchers concluded that stem cell therapy was quite effective.

Resources

Davatchi F, Abdollahi BS, Mohyeddin M, Shahram F, Nikbin B. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for knee osteoarthritis: preliminary report of four patients. Int J Rheum Dis. 2011;14(2):211-215.

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