Get the lowdown on Stem Cell Therapy

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy is a treatment in which cells from your own body are injected into an area of pathology or injury such as an arthritic joint or a torn tendon.   Stem cells have regenerative properties that may help to repair the affected area.  Therefore, stem cells can be used to treat joints commonly affected by osteoarthritis and also may be beneficial to treat tissue injuries such as rotator cuff tears, labral tears or meniscal tears.  In certain limited cases, stem cell therapy may also be used to treat conditions of the spine.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide into more stem cells.  Basically what this means is that stem cells are blank cells that can multiply and also become various types of specific cells such as skin, muscle, bone, cartilage, tendons, etc.

Where do stem cells come from?

Commonly, stem cells come from one of three sources: Embryos formed during embryological development, amniotic fluid or amniotic membranes, and from adult tissue.  Amniotic fluid stem cells are available in the form of commercially prepared products and are ready to be used once thawed from frozen state.  Adult stem cells are not frozen but are instead harvested same day from your own body.

Where are stem cells found in adult tissue?

There are many sources in the body to harvest adult stem cells including but not limited to bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, skin and adipose tissue.  Bone marrow is the tissue in the center of the bones responsible for hematopoiesis which means to form blood and its components.  Therefore, stem cells can be found within large bones of the body which contain bone marrow such as ribs, vertebrae, the sternum, extremity bones and bones of the pelvis. 

What is the procedure for harvesting adult tissue stem cells?

Using a minimally invasive procedure, bone marrow is aspirated from the pelvic bone located in the back from an area called the posterior iliac crest.  The bone marrow is then processed in a sterile environment to produce a Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) which contains stem cells and growth factors.  The BMAC can be injected into any affected area.

How does Stem Cell Therapy differ from PRP?

Although both contain growth factors which help to aid the natural healing process, BMAC also contains stem cells which may be beneficial to repairing and regenerating injured tissue.  Whereas PRP may help immediately, stem cell therapy is intended for long term results. At Valley Pain Centers in North Phoenix, Peoria and Scottsdale, our doctors provide PRP and Stem Cell therapy treatments.   Dr Knighton, Dr Chinthagada, Dr Kush and Dr Yuk are experienced board certified physicians available for consultation to discuss your condition and help you regain your quality of life. 

Author
Dinesh Chinthagada MD Dr Chinthagada is originally from Chicago, IL. He is double board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Management. Dr Chinthagada understands the impact chronic and acute pain can have on one’s quality of life and strives to create a plan for the patients of Valley Pain Centers that will treat and manage these painful conditions. He enjoys hiking, golfing and spending time with his wife and four children.

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