What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that uses stem cell injections to treat a disease or disorder. Stem cells are found naturally in the human body and are special because certain types have the ability to develop into many different types of cells.
There are two different types of stem cells: embryonic and adult. Embryonic cells come from unused embryos that were intended for in vitro fertilization and donated. These cells are pluripotent, which means they can turn into more than one cell type.
Adult stem cells come from fully developed tissue such as bone marrow and are likely to develop into specific cells. For instance, stem cells taken from the liver will develop into liver cells. There are also pluripotent adult stem cells and these can be manipulated in a laboratory to take on the pluripotent qualities of embryonic stem cells.
Stem cell therapy occurs when a doctor takes stem cells and manipulates them to become a certain type of cell specific to the patient’s needs. These specially developed cells are then injected into the patient at the necessary site to repair tissue and replace damaged cells.
The stem cell procedure is very straightforward and can be accomplished in several visits. Depending on your injury, stem cells will be collected during a single doctor’s visit. The cells are then developed in a lab to become the specific type that is needed. Afterward, you will meet with your medical team again to have the stem cells injected into the damaged site.
This type of therapy may allow you to avoid other, more invasive types of treatment such as surgery. It gives you the opportunity to avoid potential complications of surgery, anesthesia and long recovery times.
Who Is a Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy?
Since stem cell therapy is regenerative, this therapy has a wide range of potential applications. Stem cells may be used to help treat osteoarthritis, hip, back and knee pain, soft tissue injuries, healing wounds and tendon or ligament tears. Your ailment, as well as your current health and other treatment options, should all be considered before selecting stem cell therapy. If you are considering this type of therapy, work with an experienced medical team to obtain an accurate diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan to achieve your goals.
How Long Does Stem Cell Therapy Last?
Unlike many treatment options, such as pain management, stem cell therapy is designed to permanently alleviate the root cause of your pain. The benefits of which can last a lifetime. For example, if you are suffering from knee pain and undergo stem cell therapy, you may be able to eliminate your pain altogether. As the developed cells are injected into the site, they can regenerate new, healthy cells and tissue. These healthy cells may provide you the strength and stability needed to eliminate your discomfort entirely. These results may last a lifetime, depending on your injury or condition.
Traditional treatments such as pain management are not designed to get to the root of the problem. Pain management addresses the patient’s needs in a way that attempts to make him or her more comfortable so that their day to day needs of life can be accomplished but does not eliminate the root cause of the pain. Surgery is another traditional option that can offer relief but comes with it’s own set of drawbacks. Large incisions, potential blood loss and lengthy recovery times are all possibilities that come with surgery. Some surgical interventions also need to be redone over time.
Stem cell therapy does not have to be a stand alone treatment. It can be used in conjunction with more traditional therapies such as physical therapy if needed. Stem cell therapy is considered new in comparison to some of its more traditional counterparts. Regenerative medicine does not have to be all or nothing. If you and your medical team determine that it is appropriate for your specific case, you may decide to utilize stem cell therapy, physical therapy and pain management to help you achieve optimal results. Ultimately your treatment plan will be decided by yourself and your doctor and will reflect your specific needs.
Is Stem Cell Therapy Safe?
Stem cell therapy is similar to other medical options. It is safe when performed by a knowledgeable and experienced medical professional and when appropriate for the patient. There is emerging research that shows the benefits of stem cell therapy and also some of its limitations. Widely accepted uses for stem cell treatment include some blood disorders and to help treat burn victims. There are many other applications but some unscrupulous practitioners may recommend stem cell therapy for everything and anything without regard to the patient’s best interest. Stem cell therapy is rarely covered by insurance so the bulk of the costs are out of pocket for the patient.
The best way to ensure your procedure is safe is to work with a reputable medical team. You should be able to voice your questions or concerns about any procedure with your physician. Here are some tips to help you find a qualified regenerative medical professional:
- Seek out referrals. It helps to have friends or colleagues that you trust to make recommendations. Their experiences, both positive and negative can help you make an informed decision. They can also, if willing, give first hand accounts of the efficacy of the treatment they received.
- Check the doctor’s credentials. Ask a prospective doctor about his or her education and experience with stem cell therapy. You can also go online and research a physician’s background and credentials.
- Interview your medical team. Your health is one of the most important things. You need to work with a doctor that you can trust and communicate with. Some medical issues are personal and people rarely like to admit to unhealthy habits. Your doctor should be someone that you feel comfortable enough with to be completely honest.
- Ask another doctor. If you have a primary care physician that you love, ask him or her for a referral to a stem cell therapy treatment center or specialist. Generally, medical professionals have a wide array of colleagues that they may be able to recommend.
When it comes to stem cell therapy, there is a lot of information available. If you need help determining if this treatment is right for you, call our office today. We are here to listen to your needs, accurately assess the root cause of your pain, explain all of the available options and provide the most effective treatment possible.