Although stem cells sounds innovative and cutting edge, this therapy has been around for quite some time. In today's advanced medical climate stem cells are being used to treat many orthopedic conditions including osteoarthritis of the hip knee and shoulder, partial tears of tendons, muscles, and ligaments including rotator cuff tears, and various back conditions including disc herniations. This is accomplished by redirecting stem cells that your body is already producing to cure these problems.
In the past, stem cells were very difficult and expensive to procure. With newer techniques and equipment, stem cells can easily be obtained and concentrated by a simple office procedure. Stem cells are collected by aspirating bone marrow from the back of a patient's pelvis. In the bone marrow aspirate is a bloody substance that is removed from the pelvis through a small needle with minimal discomfort since the area is well numbed with a local anesthetic. Most procedures require about 2oz. (60cc) of bone marrow aspirate. This aspirate contains mesenchymal stem cells, platelets, and other cell material.
After extraction the patients' bone marrow is run through a centrifuge causing the stem cells and platelets to be separated from the rest of the blood products. It is this concentration of bone marrow that is injected back into the injured area. The concentration is called BMAC or bone marrow aspiration concentrate and when introduced back into the body, the platelets release growth factors and signaling proteins that basically tell the stem cells what to become.
In most instances Stem Cells can also be harvested from a patient's fatty tissue. Plastic surgeons have used this technique for several years and found that Fat stem cells often take on the characteristics of the surrounding tissue and aid in the healing process. We know that fatty tissue is a very rich source of stem cells and while the harvesting process differs slightly from stems cells that are gathered from bone marrow, the reintroduction and use of these types of cells is identical regardless of where or how the cells are taken. A combination of fat and bone marrow stem cells can form a potent army often able to fix problems once thought to be unfixable.
Dr. Joseph Purita, a pioneer in the use of the stem cells in orthopedic surgery and founder of The Institute for Regenerative and Molecular Orthopaedics, has been treating his patients with this type of Stem Cell therapy and witnessing remarkable results. His facility has performed over 1,000 cases. In a recent survey 89% of knee patients reported more than 50% relief of symptoms and more than half of them had greater than 75% relief. Additionally 75% of patients with chronic hip pain reported more than 50% relief of symptomatic pain or discomfort and 88% of those reporting indicated relief of 75% or greater.
While Dr. Purita is seeing great results he is cautious to add that this treatment for chronic bone and joint disease is not a panacea and not indicated for all patients. "Age, deterioration, and many other factors need be considered prior to embarking on this type of treatment. Patients who are candidates for Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy and Stem Cell Therapy report remarkable improvement over time." Purita also cautions that this is not a Stem Cell growing and reintroduction procedure but a redirection of stem cells already present in a patients system. "Stem cells by themselves are not capable of repairing anything. The cells need to be directed, and the platelets in the blood stream act as the directors. Think of stem cells as the construction workers and the platelets as their supervisors telling them what to repair and where."
Dr. Purita encourages everyone to become informed prior to embarking on any medical procedure and in particular, newer technologies including Stem Cell Therapy and has established a website http://www.stemcellorthopedic.com where you can find good information on these procedures and links to other valuable information on Stem Cell treatments and research.
The Institute for Regenerative and Molecular Orthopaedics