Stem cell therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that uses stem cell injections to treat a disease or disorder. Stem cells can be found naturally in the human body and are special because certain types have the ability to develop into many different kinds of cells. Stem cells can be harvested and certain types of stem cells can be manipulated into specific types. For instance, if a patient is suffering from a nerve disease; stem cells may be harvested and cultivated into nerve cells. Once the needed stem cells have been developed, they are then injected into the patient at the injury site. This promotes the regeneration and repair of the damaged cells.
The Basics About Stem Cells
Stems cells are able to divide and renew themselves and under certain conditions can be developed into cells or tissues with specific functions. There are two different types of stem cells: embryonic and non-embryonic. Human embryonic cells can come from unused embryos that were intended for in vitro fertilization and donated. These are not taken from a fertilized egg in a woman’s body.
It is important to note that different stems cells harvested have different functions and capabilities. Adult stem cells can only take on the characteristics of their existing state. For instance, if adult stem cells from the liver of a patient are taken, then they will develop into liver cells. Embryonic cells on the other hand are pluripotent, which means they are able to take on the characteristics of many different types of cells. So, embryonic cells can potentially be manipulated into liver or heart cells or whatever tissue is needed.
Stem Cell Injections
If you and your medical team agree that stem cell therapy is right for you there are several steps to take leading up to the injections. First and foremost, you need to have a comprehensive consultation with your medical team. While stem cell therapy has a wide range of uses, it is not for every person, disease or debilitation. If your doctor recommends treatment, the type of stem cells needed will be determined by the issue you are looking to treat. If able, your doctor may schedule a visit for you to come in and harvest adult cells from your own body. These cells can then be injected during another visit to help stimulate healing and replace unhealthy tissue or muscle. However, embryonic stem cells have a much broader opportunity to be developed and manipulated if needed.
Regardless, your therapy may consist of several visits and several rounds of treatment. While the process of stem cell therapy is fairly straightforward and consistent, the specifics will vary greatly depending on your needs.
Stem Cell Therapy Benefits
This type of therapy is regenerative meaning that the goal is to regenerate your tissue or cells and ultimately eliminate your underlying issues altogether. This treatment is not meant to be a short time fix but a permanent solution unlike other traditional treatments. It may also allow you to avoid more invasive types of treatment such as surgery. When compared to surgery, stem cell therapy typically carries less risk and theoretically, has more benefits long term. That said, stem cell therapy is still being researched and explored and can be used in conjunction with traditional treatments.
Stem Cell Therapy Drawbacks
1. There can be time delays.
Manipulating cells can be time consuming and needs to be done properly to achieve the desired results. Depending on your specific needs, this part of the process may take time. Be prepared and discuss possible timeframes with your medical team ahead of time so that you can set your expectations accordingly.
2. This type of therapy is still being researched.
While stem cell therapy has a wide array of possible applications, there are still some unknowns. Currently, this treatment is primarily used for people suffering from issues with bone marrow or blood disorders. There is currently ongoing research to further understand exactly how this treatment can be further used and to discover any possible long term complications.
3. There is a moral controversy regarding the use of embryonic stem cells.
While the future of embryonic stem cells may hold the key to curing a vast array of diseases, there are ethical questions regarding the use of embryonic cells. Stem cell research has triggered a fierce debate over when human life truly begins and the moral implications of using cells taken from embryos.
4. Stem cells may trigger a response from the body’s immune system.
Stem cells are injected into the body and can be perceived as a foreign body or invasive intruder. If this happens, your immune system may actively work to destroy the cells that were so carefully harvested and cultivated. This response may cause new medical issues or prevent the stem cell treatment from being effective.
5. It can be expensive.
Because stem cell therapy is still considered new and experimental; it is rarely covered by insurance. This means that the entire process from start to finish will usually need to be paid by the patient out-of-pocket. The process can range from $5,000 to $25,000 per treatment. If you need multiple treatments, the cost can quickly add up and become a significant financial burden. It is important to work with a team of dedicated professionals that will work with your best interests in mind and your health as their priority.
If you are considering stem cell therapy, contact our office. We will perform a comprehensive care plan to correctly identify the root cause of your pain or illness. Once you have received a diagnosis, we will work together to create an effective treatment plan tailored to you.
Our team provides cutting edge treatments and works to apply them when needed. If you are suffering from pain or a disease and want to explore your options, contact us today!