Adult stem cells can be injected to help patients with arthritis and knee, back, shoulder, hip pain, and more.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Prolotherapy helps strengthen weak tendons and ligaments through the injection of “natural(ly) occurring therapeutic agents that provoke the acute inflammatory response”. Stem cells are then introduced “to promote renewal of damaged tissues”. Stem cell prolotherapy, also known as Autologous Stem Cell Therapy (ASCT), uses the patient’s own adult stem cells, which are already partially differentiated as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These cells can “differentiate to musculoskeletal structures including ligaments, tendons as well as cartilage” in order to help repair, heal, and replace tissues that are injured. Bone marrow and adipose tissues, called bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) and adipose derived stem cells (ADSC), can also provide stem cells. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, combined with bone marrow cells, can be “equivalent to autologous bone grafting”. Adipose tissues could help with the regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues. Prolotherapy takes place over several treatments, about every 3-4 weeks. In contrast to steroid injections, which inhibit inflammation while reducing pain, prolotherapy addresses the root causes of the problem. Steroids can also have adverse reactions. Prolotherapy aims to resolve the underlying tendon or ligament weakness.1
Conditions Stem Cell Therapy Treats
Stem cell therapy, as well as prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma therapy, could treat sacroiliac joint pain more effectively than steroids, botulinum toxin, conventional radiofrequency neurotomy, pulsed radiofrequency, medications, and surgery.2 Stem cell prolotherapy can heal injured tissue and can be effective for joint pain. The goal is to stimulate the “fibroblasts to repair the injured tissues”.3 Prolotherapy has been used for chronic knee pain as well. As people age, stem cell counts decrease, and the incidence of degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) increases. Symptoms of osteoarthritis correlates to the decrease in joint fluid, the degeneration of the meniscus, and “anabolic factors necessary for healing are lacking in degenerative joints”. Bone marrow therapy may assist with providing immune cells, growth factors, and Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). The goal would be to produce enough cartilage, meniscus tissue, and joint fluid so that there is proper cushioning and more stability in the joint. The cells would be stimulated to “proliferate and repair”.4 Cell therapy could also benefit patients with sports injuries, and those with pain in the spine, hip, ankle, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. A hospital setting is not required for cell therapy; it can be done in an office, and harvesting of the patient’s cells can be done 20 minutes prior to their injection. There is “usually no down time” and patients may return to regular activities after each treatment. Typically, 1-6 treatments would be needed.5
Find out more information about prolotherapy.