Stem cell injections for osteoarthritis in older patients

We receive many questions regarding stem cell injections for osteoarthritis conditions. One of the most most frequently asked are “am I too old for treatment? or, “Is my father (mother) too old for treatment?”

The answer is: the effects of age can be accounted for by doctors experienced in the treatment and understand the differences in the types of stem cells being collected for treatment.

While studies suggested age reduced overall cell yield and adipogenic potential (the stem cells ability to change into specialized cells), osteogenesis (bone formation) and clonogenicity (the ability of cells to  clone themselves)  remained unchanged. These findings indicate the importance of age as a factor when designing cell-based therapies for older patients.1

Basically, find a doctor who knows what they are doing.

Stem cell injections for osteoarthritis

Bone defects are one of the most serious problems patients and doctors are facing and the leading stimulus for new research centering on the need for new tissue regeneration therapies. Studies on mesenchymal stem cells are changing the way we treat bone diseases tilting the shift away from surgery.2

Mesenchymal stem cells in joint disease and repair

Doctors note that Mesenchymal stem cells are known to have a potential for articular cartilage regeneration, however this favorable research is centered on surgical implant of the stem cells. Now doctors have found that for the treatment of generalized cartilage loss in osteoarthritis, an alternative delivery strategy would be more appropriate and that is injection therapy.3 The injection of Mesenchymal stem cells has produced promising outcomes in preclinical models of joint disease.4

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

As practiced at the Magaziner Center for Wellness, Stem cells are derived from the patient. Mesenchymal stem cells are found in the bone marrow, fat, and possibly in other tissues and are responsible for rebuilding and regenerating the body.

These stem cells help the body renew and heal itself. Mesenchymal stem cells are also able to differentiate into ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, and maintain a special role in the non-surgical treatment of osteoarthritis, treatment of chronic pain, and sports injuries.

What is so promising is that that stem cells may have the potential to prevent a knee, hip, shoulder or ankle replacement or fusion, repair a torn rotator cuff or labrum, and heal a meniscus tear of the knee. Our body possesses the power of repair in the stem cell, but it often will need to be concentrated in an area of injury or chronic degeneration to be truly effective.

Symptoms associated with the following conditions possibly treated by Stem cell injections for osteoarthritis:

  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Biceps tendonitis
  • Osteochondral defects
  • Osteochondritis dessicans
  • Labral tears of the hip and shoulder
  • Chronic epicondylitis (tennis and golfer’s elbow)
  • Non-healing fractures
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ligament injuries
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Sciatica
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Headaches
  • Post concussion syndrome
  • TMJ
  • Chronic groin and hamstring strains
  • avascular necrosis of the hip

Stem cell therapy is performed by extracting stem cells from the body, purifying them, and then injecting them back into the damaged area. The stem cells cannot work alone, and they require help from growth and support factors found in other tissues and blood.

We follow strict FDA guidelines in the use of stem cells, and at no time do we manipulate, expand, or grow stem cells in culture. We believe the best stem cell therapies are derived from the patient in high concentration, and placed back into the area of treatment. Manipulation and replication of stem cells in culture may inactivate these cells and may also lead to the development a of mutation that could lead to cancer. The use of the patient’s own adult stem cells, as is performed at the Magaziner Center, avoids this problem.

The area of injury or arthritis is treated with both stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP). If stem cells are the seeds in the lawn, PRP is the fertilizer that helps the lawn grow. PRP, a combination of growth factors and platelets naturally found in the body, provides cell signals and nourishment to help the stem cells flourish and develop into new joints, ligaments, tendons, and other body parts. PRP not only triggers stem cell development, but can also help stem cells regenerate on their own inside the body, and can also attract circulating stem cells to the area of injury. We have used PRP alone in the treatment of many injuries and pain problems.

Most cases of stem cell and PRP treatments are successful, and avoid the pain, disability, down time, and risk associated with major surgery. There is minimal recovery from a stem cell or PRP treatment, usually mediated by soreness in the area that was treated, and there is also a risk of bruising. There have been no reports of serious adverse effects in the scientific literature when adult mesenchymal stem cells are used in these procedures. Afterwards, the patient is encouraged to use the joint normally, and follow up treatments of PRP are given in monthly intervals to continue to allow the stem cells to do their work. Since stem cell treatment is very safe, it can be repeated in the joint if necessary to obtain optimal results. Also, having treatment with stem cells would not make a person ineligible for surgery.

Our treatment plan of joint injuries and chronic pain is also unique when compared to other practices. We have specialized, since 1999, in the non-surgical treatment of joint injuries, using techniques such as prolotherapy to regenerate joint tissue. As of 2010, we had performed over 45,000 of these procedures. This experience allows us to take a dual approach to joint injury with the use of stem cells and PRP to treat within the joint, and the use of prolotherapy to strengthen and regenerate the supporting structure of the joint. A holistic view of orthopaedics is also followed in several ways, as we look not only at the injured joint, but at where the problem originates, whether that is with a tilt in the pelvis, abnormal gait (walking cycle), spinal misalignment or, for example, with acquired weakness in the foot leading to excessive pronation and a drop in the arch.

Furthermore, the whole person is treated at the Magaziner Center, where a full discussion of diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation is reviewed. We employ medical weight management programs if necessary to help take pressure off the joint. We believe a comprehensive and cohesive approach to joint injury will yield the greatest results and help to prevent surgery. We have had the opportunity to treat anyone from professional athletes to patients who have suffered for decades with chronic pain, and invite you to schedule a consultation with us to see how we can help you.

1. Fonseca VC, Cooper LL, Koren G, Darling EM. Impact of Aging on the Regenerative Properties of Bone Marrow-, Muscle-, and Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells. December 26, 2014DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115963

2. Desiderio V, Tirino V, Papaccio G, Paino F. Bone defects: Molecular and cellular therapeutic targets. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2014 Apr 2;51C:75-78. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2014.03.025. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Jo CH, Lee YG, Shin WH, Kim H, Chai JW, Jeong EC, Kim JE, Shim H, Shin JS, Shin IS, Ra JC, Oh S, Yoon KS. Intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: A proof-of-concept clinical trial. Stem Cells. 2014 Jan 21. doi: 10.1002/stem.1634. [Epub ahead of print]

4. Barry F, Murphy M. Mesenchymal stem cells in joint disease and repair. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2013 Jul 23. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2013.109. [Epub ahead of print]

5. Orozco L, Munar A, Soler R, et al. Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis With Autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells: A Pilot Study. Transplantation. 2013 Jun 27;95(12):1535-1541.