Stem cells are the body’s transformers — they begin as undifferentiated cells but can then differentiate/change into specialized cell types. Stem cells also replicate very quickly and have the capability to promote the repair and regeneration of damaged tissues. Dr. Dini offers adult stem cell therapy to aid healing of soft tissue injuries. Contact his Los Angeles or Encino, CA office today to schedule your consultation for stem cell therapy.
What are stem cells?
Although our bodies have over 200 types of cells, stem cells are unique in that they have the ability to become many different types of cells. Plus, they replicate rapidly, so they play an important role in the body’s healing processes. Different cells have different life cycles, and there is constant regeneration. When we suffer an injury, such as a knee injury, cell degeneration exceeds regeneration. This makes the injured joint or structure weaker, painful, and less functional.
Stem cells are important in the healing process because their replication can overcome cell degeneration, enabling them to repair the injury. For orthopedic injuries, stem cells taken from bone marrow are found to be the best for repair.
What orthopedic areas can stem cell therapy be used?
Dr. Dini uses stem cells to address joint pain due to local cartilage or ligament injury or osteoarthritis. Stem cell injections improve the injury and provide pain relief.
Stem cell therapy can be used for these specific orthopedic conditions:
- Mild to moderate osteoarthritis, especially in the hips and knees
- Tendon injuries
- Partial rotator cuff tears
- Back pain related to degenerative disc and facet joint problems
- MCL, ACL, PCL, or LCL sprains or tears
- Patellar tendonitis
- Hamstring tendinopathy
- Pain in the hands, knees, or feet
- Cartilage damage
Who is a good candidate for stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a new area of orthopedics, and every patient responds to stem cell therapy in his or her own way. This is a low-risk procedure because the patient’s own stem cells are harvested and then re-injected in the area of the injury. This can be a step for the patient to try as an alternative to orthopedic surgery.
A good candidate for stem cell therapy is anyone with a soft tissue injury to the cartilage, ligaments, or tendons. Generally, this is a treatment option for patients who have not responded to other treatments and who are hoping to avoid surgery.
How is the therapy performed?
If you’re considering stem cell therapy, Dr. Dini will meet with you and discuss the procedure. The human body keeps a supply of stem cells in reserve to use after injury. These can be found in the bone marrow. The easiest location to access your bone marrow is from the back of the hip area, the iliac bone.
The procedure is performed in our offices. The patient lies face down and the area is cleaned and locally anesthetized. Dr. Dini inserts a special needle into the bone to withdraw marrow blood. This contains the stem cells. This harvesting procedure isn’t to be confused with a bone marrow biopsy, which can be quite painful. Our patients find harvesting to be easily tolerated.
Once Dr. Dini draws the bone marrow blood, the sample is placed in a centrifuge that concentrates and purifies the stem cells. We will also use the sample to create platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to further fuel the healing process. PRP is simply concentrated blood platelets, plasma, and white blood cells (after removing the red blood cells).
The final step is the re-injection of the concentrated stem cells into the injured joint or the area of the strain. In many cases, PRP is injected at the same time to kick-start the healing process with the concentrated platelets. From there, your body takes over.
The procedure, both harvesting and re-injection, takes place in a single office visit. Patient results are unique to each patient. The goal of stem cell treatment is to reduce pain and improve function without the need for surgery. When this treatment is successful, pain relief and improvement in function typically begin to occur about 6-8 weeks after treatment, after the stem cells have had a chance to regenerate injured tissue, including cartilage in some cases. Again, success rates vary widely depending on the patient’s own healing mechanisms.
What are the risks of stem cell therapy?
These treatments have proven very safe and low risk. This is because we use the patient’s own stem cells for re-injection. There can be some mild discomfort with the harvesting and re-injection, but this is easily tolerated. There is potential for nerve damage, but this is exceedingly rare. Dr. Dini will discuss the risks involved with stem therapy during your consultation.