What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a developing orthopaedic treatment modality that aims to harness the power of the body’s own stem cells to promote healing and recovery. Adult stem cells, which are found throughout the body, have many regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties and possess the unique ability to differentiate or change themselves. This ability to change allows stem cells to “grow” into a wide variety of cell types. Many orthopaedic surgeons believe that stem cells could have the ability to treat common musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, like damaged cartilage, arthritis, and ligament and muscle tears.
There is evidence to suggest that stem cell therapy has the potential to repair and strengthen damaged tissues throughout the entire musculoskeletal system. Yet, there are not clearly defined clinical protocols for how and when to deploy stem cell treatments in the management of orthopaedic conditions. To that end, there are research studies and trials underway around the world to better understand how these procedures can impact common orthopaedic injuries and conditions. As part of his clinical practice, Dr. Chris O’Grady offers regenerative medicine procedures like stem cell therapy alongside traditional treatment modalities to ensure his patients have the best chance of success.
Here, we outline four reasons you may want to consider stem cell therapy if you are currently struggling with shoulder pain.
It Can Be Used to Help Treat Many Common Conditions
Due to the healing and regenerative properties that are believed to be present in stem cells, the procedure can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. In the shoulder specifically, the most common conditions treated with stem cell therapy are osteoarthritis, chronic joint pain, and soft tissue injuries resulting from acute trauma, including rotator cuff and labral tears and degeneration. Patients from all walks of life and all activity levels could be candidates for the procedure, as the healing and regenerative properties of stem cell therapy have the potential to improve numerous conditions.
Stem cell therapy is far less invasive than traditional surgical approaches to shoulder pain and it can be done in the outpatient setting. There are no incisions required for the procedure and, as such, the risks of infection and complication are dramatically lower than surgery. In fact, it is often stated that stem cell treatments are no riskier than a run-of-the-mill corticosteroid injection. Furthermore, because there are no incisions, the procedure requires very little recovery time; oftentimes, the only side-effect of the procedure is soreness at the site of injection.
Stem cell therapy requires very little, if any, pain medication during recovery, so there is no risk of adverse side effects to opioid medication. Most patients only need a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like ibuprofen immediately following the procedure. Given that we are currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic on par with some of the worst drug scourges in our nation’s history, keeping patients off of narcotics during recovery is greatly preferred.
While the idea of stem cells being used to treat musculoskeletal injuries may seem like a novel approach, the procedure itself is actually pretty straight-forward. By delivering adult stem cells to the site of injury, this procedure aims to harness the body’s innate healing abilities to drive recovery. And because stem cell therapy relies on the body’s own cells to promote healing, there are no outside chemicals or additives that are being injected into your body during the procedure.
While the science behind stem cell therapy is still evolving, the procedure offers a number of potential benefits. If you are currently suffering from shoulder pain, schedule an appointment for a consultation to determine if this procedure might be right for you.