Stem cell therapy is an exciting alternative that can provide your body the help it needs to get you back on your feet and enjoying life! If you are interested in finding out more about stem cell therapy, and how it may be able to help you, the team at Art of Pain Management & Regenerative Medicine is ready to answer your questions.
If COPD, chronic knee, back, hip, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, arthritis or other joint pain is limiting your daily routine or preventing you from activities you enjoy; stem cell therapy may be the answer you’ve been looking for!
Stem cell therapy treatments are still developing, but those available can offer relief to patients with chronic pain and difficult-to-treat conditions. As with any medical procedure, there are numerous possible risks and benefits of using the treatment. If you or a loved one is considering stem cell therapy, it is important to understand what it is, how it works, and some pros and cons of the process.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a treatment used to remedy numerous diseases. It involves extracting the patient’s stem cells from one of a variety of places and using the cells to rejuvenate tissue and repair injuries. Unlike many treatments, it does not require intrusive surgery or long hours spent in the hospital. Stem cell therapy consists of a series of injections.
With the current research regarding stem cell therapy, there is set of defined uses. Some of the ways that the medical community is using stem cells therapy include:
- Repairing nerve damage
- Reducing recovery time
- Lessening physical pain without medication
- Improving mobility
- Repairing skin wounds
- Helping to create new, healthy tissue for the heart and blood vessels
- A reduced chance of suffering a similar future injury
- Increased collagen
Because stem cells have the ability to transform into almost any kind of cell, they are ideal for repairing a wide variety of issues. Stem cell therapy focuses on taking advantage of the versatility of stem cells and many specialists believe that, as research continues, there will be even more uses in the future.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
The first step in stem cell therapy is extracting the patient’s stem cells. Stem cells can be harvested from many places on the body. For adults, the most common areas from which medical professionals will extract stem cells are bone marrow or fat tissue. After they remove the cells, they cannot be immediately injected into the location of the injury or ailment. Specialists put them into a machine that can take the substances from the cells that are most valuable and put them into a more concentrated form. Once the stem cells are concentrated, they will be injected into the affected area.
What Makes Stem Cells Special?
Their ability to transform into any type of cell is not the only thing that makes stem cells an extremely effective basis for a medical treatment. Stem cells can split and reproduce quickly and easily. Because of this speed, most patients begin seeing improvements within one or two treatments. The natural growth hormones that are in stem cells help increase the speed of the body’s normal repair time without needing medications to supplement the repair or decrease pain.
Main Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy:
Treating Orthopedic Injuries
One of the many uses of stem cell therapy is to treat orthopedic injuries. The cells that medical professionals use for orthopedic issues are called Mesenchymal stem cells. Research has revealed that Mesenchymal cells can rejuvenate tissues in muscle, bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments, not only speeding recovery but also reducing chronic pain and improving mobility.
Mesenchymal stem cells, like other stem cells, are harvested either from fat tissue or bone marrow. Research has revealed that Mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow are stronger and more reliable so most orthopedic stem cell therapy procedures involve stem cells from bone marrow. Once these cells are concentrated, they can have up to 25 growth factors and beneficial substances.
Treating Cardiovascular Diseases
Stem cell therapy can also treat cardiovascular diseases. Most cardiovascular diseases function by preventing enough oxygen from getting to the heart, causing issues with blood flow and causing scar tissue. Stem cells can adapt to become cells that help negate the disease, repairing the heart and blood vessels. Stem cell therapy can also:
- Create muscle cells that help the heart grow new tissue
- Reduce the chances of heart failure by reducing strain on cardiac cells
- Help improve blood flow
- Help create new capillaries
Speeds Up Healing of Wounds and Cuts
One of the capabilities of stem cells is that they increase the amount of collagen in an area. Increased collagen levels make it easier for the body to repair a wound. The therapy helps encourage the growth of new tissue, which is a key component of the healing process for wounds and incisions.
Helps Treat Neurological Issues
Recently, scientists have discovered that stem cell therapy can help with diseases such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Similar to how they function with cardiovascular diseases, stem cells can be injected into the brain to help grow new cells, neurons, and synapses. Studies about this use for stem cell therapy are still ongoing, but research has shown that it can slow the development of these neurodegenerative diseases.
May Help with Autoimmune Disorders
People with autoimmune disorders struggle to retain healthy tissue and cells. Stem cells may be able to adapt to become the cells that the autoimmune disorder is destroying at an increased rate. Fewer medical professionals are willing to use stem cell therapy for autoimmune disorders because there is not as much research as for other stem cell therapy uses.
Risks of Stem Cell Therapy and Things to Keep in Mind
Though research is ongoing for how stem cell therapy can treat numerous diseases, there is still only a select group of diseases for which stem cell therapy has been proven to work. Many uses of stem cells are still experimental so the main risk of stem cell therapy is the fact that some of it is highly experimental. Taking a chance on an experimental treatment introduces potential downsides such as:
- Complications that create new health issues or make your current issue worse
- High expense
- You could no longer be allowed to take part in future clinical trials or treatments
- Travel to see specialized doctors may take you away from work and family
It is also important that you are aware of the difference between a legitimate clinical trial with a certified doctor and a clinic trying overly experimental, unproven stem cell treatments. Legitimate, reliable doctors will usually get patients through referrals from other clinics and medical professionals. Be wary of advertisements that you see online or through social media for stem cell therapy treatments, as these clinics may be more focused on getting your payment than providing you with a safe treatment.