Stem Cell Injections for Arthritis, Bursitis & Tendonitis
Stem cells, or mesenchymal stem cells, are the cells in our body that are the precursors to turn into other types of cells. The hope, as it relates to orthopedics, is that we can take these precursor cells and convince them to turn into healthy tissue, whether that be tendon or cartilage.
In the setting of arthritis, we are trying to regrow or improve the health of the cartilage that’s been damaged by the arthritic process. The stem cells may be able to regrow or turn into cartilage in the future. At this point, we have not been able to show that we can regrow cartilage in the setting of an injection, but we are able to maintain the health of the cartilage and improve the overall environment in the knee, for example.
We’re able to do bone marrow aspirate injections to garner stem cells. There are injection options derived from amniotic fluid and amniotic tissue that also provide us with a stem cell-type injection.
Stem cells are being used for a wide range of purposes within orthopedics. We’re using this for arthritis, we’re using it for bursitis, tendonitis, and any area where we have damaged tissue and specifically inflammation throughout the body.
Amniotic membrane, or amniotic fluid injections, are typically obtained from a provider or company and come ready to use. There’s no risk or invasive procedure involved to the patient. We’re able to inject it much like we do a steroid or cortisone injection.
Bone marrow aspirate is obtained typically from the iliac crest, which is the top of our pelvis along the side of the hip bone. This is the easiest area to access, but it can be painful. We do recommend doing this in a more controlled setting, typically in an operating room. It can be done in clinic, but it can be much more painful than some of the other injection options.
The regenerative injections don’t have many medical limitations, as some of the other injections may. Steroid injections, for example, can affect a diabetic patient’s blood sugar. We don’t have those same concerns with our regenerative injections.