Frequently Asked Questions about Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is an exciting new field. It has been recognized by the medical community worldwide as potentially being the biggest breakthrough in regenerative healing. The procedure is safe and can make a big difference in getting you back to your desired activities. But as a new modality, you probably have questions.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions we've compiled just for you.
Stem cells have regenerative power. When injected into an area that needs healing, your body's response is to accelerate the natural healing process and repair the damage.
Our stem cell technique is minimally invasive. Amniotic fluid is injected into the injured or arthritic area combined with your own PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma).
The concentrated growth factors can help the body naturally repair damaged tissue allowing you a rapid return to your desired activities without ongoing discomfort.
Stem Cell Injections can accelerate the healing of a number of conditions for the hip, knee, arm, shoulder, lower leg, foot and ankle. Please consult our page of conditions treated by stem cell therapy for a more complete listing, but here is an abbreviated list:
- Knees - Osteoarthritis, Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper's Knees), "cartilage tears", tendon injury, muscle injury, ligament injury
- Shoulder - Arthritis, Partial rotator cuff tears, labral tears, tendon injury
- Hip- Osteoarthritis, tendon injury, muscle injury, labrum tears
- Ankle - Osteoarthritis, ankle pain, tendon injury, Achilles tendonitis/tendinopathy, ligament injury, plantar fasciitis
- Foot - Arthritis, Plantar fasciitis
- Elbow- Tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, osteoarthritis, ligament injury
- Wrist/Hand - Osteoarthritis, wrist/hand pain, carpal tunnel, ligament sprain, DeQuervain's syndrome
Local anesthesia will be used for the procedure, which does not require general anesthesia or hospitalization. The injected area should be comfortable following the local anesthesia injection immediately before the stem cell injection.
Following the procedure there may be discomfort for 1-3 days. Prescription analgesics will be discussed, and prescription provided on an individual basis.
Most patients report very little discomfort with the procedure and mild pain afterward. In weeks 1 and 2, there may be noticeable inflammation in the treated area, which is normal since your immune system is getting to work.
With any medical procedure, there is always some amount of risk. However, the risk for stem cell therapy is extremely low. We use amniotic fluid combined with your own PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). Hip aspirations using your own stem cells are also available. Your cells are a perfect match with little to no chance of rejection or infection.
You may be a candidate for stem cell injections if you have been diagnosed with tendonitis, mild-to-moderative degenerative joint disease, tears of the cartilage or ligament tissue, or any type of musculoskeletal injury if it has not responded to traditional treatments such as rest, icing, physical therapy, and pain medication.
If you have an active infection or cancer, you may be excluded from receiving stem cell injections. Such patients must undergo treatment for the infection prior to any regenerative medicine procedure.
If you have a bleeding disorder, or you are taking certain blood thinning medications, you will require special consideration, as do severely ill patients, before being considered for stem cell procedures.
It is possible that stem cell injections could be inhibited if you are taking other medications or are currently receiving some other type of medical treatment.
During your initial consultation, you should take great care to disclose any medications you are taking and any treatments you are undergoing so that the Dr. Ruht can determine your eligibility for the stem cell procedure.
For some patients, positive results may be felt within a week. Other patients may require more time, and may feel no improvement for at least 3 weeks, possibly up to 6-8 weeks.
Keep in mind that the stem cell treatment is activating your body to heal itself by regenerating soft tissue. You have to give the cell structures time to grow back.
You may experience some mild soreness in the joint for up to a week after your procedure, in which you'll want to avoid heavy exertion. Anti-inflammatory products such as aspirin, Motrin, Advil, and Aleve should be avoided for the first 2 weeks, since they can adversely affect stem cell function. Taking Tylenol is considered fine. Prescription medication is also available.
THE STEM CELL PROCEDURE IS PERFORMED IN THE OFFICE WITH LOCAL ANESTHESIA AND DOES NOT REQUIRE GENERAL ANESTHESIA OR HOSPITALIZATION.
Platelet Rich Plasma Injections are used to enhance healing by using your own blood components. Our PRP physician will draw your blood and place it in a centrifuge where the platelets are extracted to release healing proteins. He will then inject the solution directly into your injured area using an ultrasound-guided technique to ensure accuracy. The healing proteins, known as growth factors, stimulate repair and regeneration, giving you faster healing and quicker pain relief. In most cases, one to three injections are required.
PRP Injections can accelerate the healing of a number of conditions for the hip, knee, arm, shoulder, lower leg, foot and ankle. Please consult our page of conditions treated by PRP for a more complete listing, but here is an abbreviated list:
- Acute muscle tears and strains
- Chronic Tendinopathies (tennis elbow, Achilles tendon, patellar tendon and rotator cuff)
- Ligament injuries (ie: medial or lateral collateral ligament—MCL/LCL)
Most patients tolerate the injection well enough, but there may be soreness due to PRP-induced inflammatory response. Expect some swelling and soreness during the first 48 hours after the injection. You will be given pain medication to help alleviate the discomfort.
Injections of platelets are safe since you're using your body's own blood components and there are no foreign substances being injected. The only noted risk in clinical trials was the possibility of infection which is not unique to platelet injections. Anytime a person undergoes an injection there is this risk. Since there are no foreign bodies being injected and there is no concern of disease transmission, PRP therapy is considered safe.
You might be if you have moderate osteoarthritis in the hip, knee or shoulder or chronic tendinitis in the elbow or ankle. Typically, you would have had failed conservative treatment options such as rest, medication, and/or physical therapy.
PRP is not for everyone. Patients with severe anemia, low platelet count, abnormal platelet function, active systemic infection or those with an active cancer are not recommended to be administered PRP. We do not recommend it for the following individuals:
- Anyone with a cancer (such as prostate cancer or breast cancer) who has not been in remission for at least 5 years
- Certain other malignancies or blood-borne diseases that are currently being treated
- Any current infection
- Patients with multiple medical issues may not be good candidates
- Patients using an anticoagulant can receive PRP with counseling
PRP is intended as a healing modality and not for quick pain relief. Your pain will gradually subside as the injured tissue repairs and pain-relieving growth factors activate. This process can take weeks or months, but when successful, the effect is long-lasting. If relief is not sufficient at three months, a second injection may be performed. Maximum effects are usually seen at six to nine months. Some knee joints may require two injections in closer proximity in time.
Recovery times are influenced in-part by the condition and body part being treated:
Injections in the elbow or shoulder: You may be placed in a sling for 48 hours up to one week. More time may be needed for comfort.
For the ankle: Achilles tendon, peroneal tendon, plantar fascia. You will be required to wear a walking boot for up to two weeks or more if needed. If you have the infection in the right ankle, you cannot drive due to the boot being on your foot.
If you have an injection in your knee for osteoarthritis, you only need to rest for 24 hours and then you can return to your normal activities.
If the injection is in your patellar tendon or quadriceps tendon, your knee may be placed in a knee immobilizer for one to two days.
THE PRP PROCEDURE IS PERFORMED IN THE OFFICE WITH LOCAL ANESTHESIA AND DOES NOT REQUIRE GENERAL ANESTHESIA OR HOSPITALIZATION.