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July 10, 2017

Stem cells: Truth vs. myth

There is great excitement and interest about the use of stem cells to improve or reverse chronic disease. Stem cells may recruit healing, increase blood flow and decrease pain. The science of stem cell use for regenerative medicine is young, and much is still unknown about long term effectiveness. We would like to dispel some confusion and educate you, to help you make the best decision.

Myth: Stem cells from donor patients can be injected into you as a patient.

Truth: Stem cells do not come in a bottle. 

The FDA has only permitted the use of live stem cells taken from a patient’s own bone marrow, then re-injected into the same patient, on the same day. These cells cannot by frozen, stored, altered or donated.

Many providers are advertising “live stem cells from amniotic products”. This is misinformation. These formulations contain some of the active growth factors, collagen, and elements that cause inflammation and promote healing. These products are dehydrated and processed. They come in a bottle with a shelf life of five years. There are NO LIVE CELLS in these products. If you got an injection out of a bottle there were no live stem cells involved

Myth: Stem cells reverse arthritis. 

Truth: There is no definitive evidence that a stem cell injection will prevent progression ofarthritis, change the natural history of a degenerative joint or preclude the needfor joint replacement. 

Before and after x-rays showing an improvement in the joint space are a gimmick.

There is some evidence that stem cells improve the health of the joint, cause improved health of the cartilage cells, provide an anti-inflammatory effect, fight cell death, provide an anti-microbial effect and improve blood flow. These effects can decrease the pain of arthritis for up to 24 months.

Here are a few more facts about stem cells:

Stem cells used with surgery promote healingA European study showed that the application of stem cells with rotator cuff repair surgery improved healing. When injected into an injured rotator cuff tendon (partial tear), the stem cells induced regeneration of the tendon defect. Other studies showed improved healing with application of bone marrow concentrate into ACL and Achilles repair. So, there is benefit to augmenting a tendon repair with your own stem cells.

Stem cell injections into degenerative joints reduce pain and improve function.

A study showed in which 115 degenerative shoulders injected with bone marrow concentrated stem cells resulted in a 44% reduction in pain for up to two years. Similar injections into 424 arthritic knees resulted in improved knee pain and function scores.

Stem cell treatment for cartilage injury healed the defectPatients who had a bone marrow concentrate placed into a cartilage defect had complete filling of the defect in 81% of patients at minimum follow up of three years. This data demonstrates promise for the responsible use of bone marrow concentrate stem cells.

Here at Coral Desert Orthopaedics, we are prepared to use the latest innovations in science and technology to restore joint health, promote a successful surgical outcome and to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

Please call Dr. Scott Parry, Dr. Todd Parry or Dr. Randy Clark to schedule an appointment to learn more about these options, 435-628-9393.

 

Check out our Southern Utah Health & Wellness Directory at www.stghealth.com.

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About Dr. Michael Anderson

Dr. Anderson has practiced orthopedic surgery in St. George for the past 25 years taking a special interest in anterior hip replacement, total knee replacement and partial knee replacement. He founded, and helped develop, Coral Desert Orthopedics to a thriving practice of six surgeons and three physicians assistants. With his wife and four boys he enjoys all the outdoor activities that Southern Utah offers, including mountain climbing, cycling and photography. His training has presented unique opportunities including serving as the crew physician for an IMAX film in Antarctica documenting the travels of Ernest Shackleton in 1914, Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure. He has also served as volunteer medical doctor and orthopedic surgeon in Third World countries.

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