Stem cell therapy has truly been changing the orthopedic industry. With the help of stem cells, we have helped grandparents relieve their knee pain so they can play with their grandkids again. We have been able to put athletes back in the game within a season after a typical season ending type of injury. We have even seen people who thought they would never be able to go to a gym again who are finally able to get back on the treadmill. Keeping people out of orthopedic surgery is one of the main benefits of Stem Cell Therapy. However, not everyone can take advantage of stem cells. Some people are in a situation in which orthopedic surgery is inevitable.

People believe stem cells treatments are a miracle treatment. We’ve heard about stem cells treating people for different types of diseases and orthopedic conditions. At this point there hasn’t been enough studies to prove that stem cells can treat every disease. However, we know that stem cells are able to treat people with mild orthopedic conditions.

If you have mild arthritis, meaning you have worn away some the cartilage in your joints, you may be a candidate for stem cell therapy. If you have injured a tendon from a sports related injury, you may be a good candidate for stem cell therapy. If you have tendinitis you may be a candidate for stem cell therapy. However, there are a few situations where stem cell therapy cannot help.

Bone Spurs and Orthopedic Surgery

According to E Medicine Health,

“A bone spur is an outgrowth of bone that can occur along the edges of a bone. It is also called an osteophyte. Bone spurs can form in any bone but are most commonly found in joints, where two or more bones come together. They also occur where muscles, ligaments, or tendons attach to the bone.”

According to the source the most common parts of the body to get bone spurs are joints, such as the knees, lower back, shoulder, hip, neck, elbow and heel.

Typically bone spurs occur because someone continues to put stress on their joints after they have worn away the cartilage in their joints. If you have mild arthritis you have begun to wear away the cartilage in your joints. If you are stubborn like most and ignore the pain, eventually you’ll completely wear away the cartilage. You’ll develop a bone on bone condition and eventually bone spurs will form. Bone spurs are actually new bones that have formed in a response to the stress. This is the bone’s way of trying to stabilize itself.

When you have worn away ALL of the cartilage in your joints and have developed bone spurs you typically will need orthopedic surgery. Stem cell therapy is an amazing procedure to help heal and regrow cartilage. However, there needs to be cartilage present in order to regrow the cartilage. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which means the stem cells can transform into other cells and multiply. This process regrows the cartilage.

Torn ACL and Orthopedic Surgery

Injuring your ACL is extremely common for athletes. Your running full speed with all of your energy and suddenly you pivot to dodge an opponent. The stress that you put on your knee at that sudden moment to pivot is when you tear your ACL.

The ACL provides stability and prevents your shinbone from moving too far forward. In most cases athletes just sprain the ACL. In this case, stem cell therapy can help the healing process and orthopedic surgery can typically be avoided. However if the ACL is completely ripped in half then orthopedic surgery is inevitable. In most cases the ACL is replaced with a substitute graft, which is made of a tendon. This improves the success rate to 95%. Some orthopedic surgeons are using stem cells during surgery because they believe the stem cells help heal the repaired tissue faster, stronger and better.

Stem cells can’t reattach the completely torn ACL. As we mentioned before the stem cells need attached tissue to rebuild. This is why orthopedic surgery is necessary. However, if you have a sprained or partially torn ACL stem cell therapy may definitely help rebuild and heal the affected area. If you are interested in healing faster after your torn ACL surgery than an injection of stem cells may speed up the healing process AND provide you with a more full recovery. Many professional athletes who couldn’t avoid orthopedic surgery have taken advantage of stem cell therapy to provide peace of mind for a full recovery as well as a more speedy recovery.

No More Cartilage Means Orthopedic Surgery

We briefly discussed the importance of cartilage when we discussed bone spurs. Cartilage is the rubbery material that provides a cushion in between your joints. Cartilage acts as a shock absorber and prevents your bones from rubbing together, which is very painful. Cartilage isn’t indestructible. You can wear down cartilage through wear and tear. You can also injure your joints and wear away your cartilage.

To put cartilage in perspective think about tires on your vehicle. When you buy a new car the tires are great! There’s lots of tread and everything is smooth. Over time you can slowly wear away the tread. However, you can also speed up the process by driving a lot, or getting into an accident, which destroys your tires faster. Cartilage acts the same way.

Stem cells have been shown to help repair and even regrow cartilage. When stem cells are injected into an area of damage and worn cartilage in your joints, they begin to help repair the damaged cells in the cartilage. This process over time can rebuild your cartilage. The problem is many people have a bone-on-bone condition where they have completely worn away the cartilage in their joints. Stem cells can’t rebuild something that is not there. In this case orthopedic surgery is necessary.

References:

  • E Medicine Health. Bone Spurs Overview (online article). Retrieved from: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/bone_spurs/article_em.htm#bone_spurs_overview