What are Stem Cells?

A stem cell is just a cell that hasn’t decided what it wants to be when it grows up. They can be thought of like clone cells in that if you put a stem cell in a bone it turns into a bone, and if you put a stem cell into a tendon it turns into a tendon.

Stem cells have over 200 growth factors to assist in the healing process and can facilitate it by differentiating into specialized cells required for the body’s repair. In fact, it’s a tissue injury that turns stem cells on and gets them working. So when a person has an injury or a degenerative type problem like arthritis, the stem cells are injected into the area in need and can then stimulate the healing process. As we age our stem cells age, so the younger the stem cell is the more potent it will be.

What is the difference between Adult Stem Cells and Amniotic Fluid derived Stem Cells?

Amniotic fluid stem cells and adult stem cells have many related benefits when considering them for medical use. First, these fluids and cells are immunologically privileged; meaning they cause no reaction between completely unrelated donors and recipients. This means there is no risk of rejection of the stem cell once it is injected into the site of injury.

Amniotic stem cells (ASCs) are a sort of hybrid between embryonic and adult stem cells in terms of their plasticity and differentiation abilities. Many more stem cells are present in amniotic fluid than adult bone marrow. In fact, amniotic fluid can develop into many different types of tissues such as skin, cartilage, cardiac, nerves, muscle, and bone.

Amniotic fluid contains levels of hyaluronic acid, which aids in joint lubrication and acts as a joint medication. It naturally occurs in all of our joints already, but giving a joint an added boost of hyaluronic acid could provide improved functionality in terms of support and also pain relief. It also contains a full complement of growth factors that function to stimulate stem cells to differentiate into many different cell types.

This is significant for example, because if you inject stem cells near a knee with degenerating cartilage, a portion of these stem cells may attach to the damaged area and begin to grow new healthy cartilage cells supporting and healing previously untreatable injuries. Amniotic fluid stem cell recruitment therapy contains anti-inflammatory and anti-adhesion properties, which work to heal joint, muscular or skeletal injuries. Keeping inflammation at rest is a great way to accelerate the healing process.

Where do the stem cells come from?

They come from amniotic fluid that is collected at the time of a C-section. The stem cells do not come from the baby or an aborted fetus, but instead come from the amniotic fluid that is typically discarded at the end of a C-section delivery. Therefore there are no ethical issues with using amniotic stem cells.

How do I know if the stem cells are safe?

The donor is screened and tested prior to being consented to use the amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is then sent to an FDA approved lab where it is processed accordingly and safety checked. After processing, the fluid is cryogenically frozen and stored.

Donor tissue is recovered using the safest recovery techniques and sterilized equipment to minimize bioburden contamination. Allografts are procured via a network of qualified and trained recovery partners, using a stringent screening and recovery protocol, in a highly controlled processing environment, minimizing risk of disease transmission. All tissues are processed aseptically and sterilized using Gamma irradiation.

What kind of medical or sports condition can benefit from stem cell recruitment therapy?

In general any injury that involves a joint, tendon, ligament, sprain, strain or muscle injury can benefit from stem cell therapy. Stem cell recruitment treatment provided by an Orthopedic Specialist is designed to target areas within the joints to help with the creation of new cartilage cells, reduce pain, and improve joint health. Listed below are some specific conditions that can be treated with stem cell therapy:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Patellar tendinitis
  • Acute muscle tears or strains
  • Ankle sprains
  • Hamstring tears or sprains
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis / arthritis
  • Hip bursitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Posterior tibial tendinitis
  • Peroneal tendinitis
  • Stress fractures

How long does it take to see results?

Most patients feel no improvement for at least three weeks but it can even take up to six or eight weeks. However, once you feel improvement, you will notice continued improvement lasting over six to eight months.

Does it hurt to get a stem cell injection?

In our office we use a very small and slender needle to inject the stem cells into the injured area. If feels similar to getting a flu shot. There may be some mild soreness in the joint for up to a week after the injection.

How much does it cost?

My office will check with your insurance carrier to determine if they cover the injection, as well as the copay, co-insurance, and deductible status. If stem cell injections are not covered by your insurance provider, it is a $1,600 cost per injection.

Dr. Grossfeld has over 25 years of experience in orthopedic medicine and is a double board-certified orthopedic surgeon. To get more information on stem cells as a treatment option, call 502-212-2663 to make an appointment today.