Jerry, a lifelong Tampa resident and ex-athlete in his 40s was told by his orthopedic surgeon that the cartilage in his knee was gone. He had no meniscus. His knee joint was bone-on-bone, according to his surgeon, and surgery would be the only option.
Instead, Jerry told his doctor, “I’d like to try stem cell therapy.”
His doctor thought he was crazy, but there was nothing he could do to stop the former Division III football player and weekend warrior, so Jerry tried a stem cell injection. Six months later, he felt better, but whenever he bent his knee, he heard clicking and felt a catch, so Jerry got a second injection.
The catching continued after the second injection, so Jerry returned to his orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon x-rayed Jerry’s knee and, after examining the x-ray, told Jerry, “Well, I don’t know how, but I think you have a torn meniscus.”
Jerry scheduled arthroscopic surgery to repair what the doctor thought was a torn meniscus. During the surgery, the doctor discovered plush, thick cartilage where there had been none only a year earlier.
He realized it was scar tissue that had built up when Jerry had been bone-on-bone that was causing the clicking and catching. The surgeon removed the scar tissue, injected amniotic fluid to prevent any further scarring, and closed him back up.
After surgery, Jerry had no more clicking or catching. His knee felt almost like new, and he was able to return to his normal activities.
Harnessing the Human Body’s Ability to Heal Itself
The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself. As soon as trauma occurs, various cells rush to the injury to begin the healing process. Stem cells play a key role in that healing process.
Stem cells are undifferentiated (unspecialized) cells that have the ability to become a specific cell type, such as cartilage, muscle, brain, and tendon cells. They’re constantly at work throughout your body, replacing dead or damaged cells.
As we age, our stem cells change from being pluripotent (able to become any cell type) to multipotent (able to become a limited range of cell types); for example, multipotent blood-forming stem cells can become red or white blood cells or platelets but not liver or lung cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are used to restore cartilage, bone, and muscle. As a newborn, one out of every 10,000 bone marrow cells is MSC. In adults, the concentration drops to one out of every two million (which explains why we have a more difficult time recovering from athletic injuries and degenerative joint conditions as we age).
Recently, doctors have started using stem cells to restore cartilage and to heal damaged bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments in the spine and joints. MSCs are injected into the affected area to increase the concentration of stem cells, which, over the course of several weeks and months, restore joint tissue. As a result, stem cell therapy may help some people avoid surgery or at least delay it indefinitely.
At BioDesign Wellness Center in Tampa, we offer minimally invasive stem cell therapy that provides instant relief and long-term restoration of damaged or deteriorated knees.
Sources of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
If you are wondering where the stem cells used in Stem Cell Therapy come from, mesenchymal stem cells can be obtained from a patient’s bone marrow, fat (adipose tissue), or peripheral (circulating) blood and from birth-associated tissues, including placenta, amnion, umbilical cord (UC), and cord blood (CB). At BioDesign Wellness Center, we use MSCs from birth-associated tissues.
At least one study has shown that MSCs derived from birth-associated tissues offer several benefits over those derived from distinct adult tissues (obtained from the patient):
- Birth-associated tissues are readily available from donated neonatal (after birth) tissues, so painful extraction of stem cells from patients can be avoided, and there are no ethical issues related to the use of these stem cells.
- Birth-associated tissues contain a variety of embryonic cell populations that contain MSCs, endothelial stem/progenitor cells, and hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells.
- MSCs from birth-associated tissues are superior in proliferation, life span, and differentiation compared with those obtained from patients.
The stem cells we use are derived from Wharton’s Jelly of the umbilical cord (UC) that are donated from full-term, C-section deliveries in accordance with the FDA and American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) standards. We do not use any material obtained directly from the embryo or fetus.
Depending on the injury, we use one or more of the following products derived from Wharton’s Jelly to promote healing and reduce inflammation:
CoreCyte: A high concentration of stem cells (1 to 1.5 million stem cells per milliliter) derived from Wharton’s Jelly extracted from the umbilical cord. This clear, gel-like tissue contains a 50 times higher concentration of hyaluronic acid and growth factors compared to amniotic fluid.
PolyCyte: Minimally modified human tissue cells processed to preserve anti-inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, collagen, and hyaluronic acid. PolyCyte reduces pain and serves as the site “foreman” to direct the stem cells on how to repair the tissue.
AmnioCyte Plus: Amniotic fluid plus a cellular matrix — derived from the innermost layer of the placenta — this solution optimizes infiltration, proliferation, and attachment of native reparative cells.
It also provides the highest concentration of collagen-building cytokines and the strongest scaffolding for cell adhesions and the body’s reparative efforts, creating a cushion for joints. It feels like silk going into your body; you will instantly feel relief like a silky cushion, which is great for arthritis.
AmnioCyte: Derived from amniotic fluid, AmnioCyte is an anti-inflammatory that works better than corticosteroid (which degrades cartilage). AmnioCyte’s proteins, cytokines, and growth factors create the ideal environment for the proliferation and remodeling of damaged tissue via the body’s native stem cells.
Unlike other stem cell therapy procedures, ours does not involve extracting bone marrow, fat cells, or blood cells from our patients and then injecting them into the affected area(s).
The procedure we employ is less invasive than surgery, causes much less pain, takes significantly less time, and has virtually no recovery period (other than the weeks required for the stem cells to rebuild the tissue).
Is stem cell therapy right for you? Check back later this week for Part II in our series about repairing Tampa’s knees with stem cell therapy.
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Disclaimer: The information in Part I of this blog post on stem cell therapy is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.