Hooray! You Are Having Stem Cell Therapy to Fix Your Joint Pain!
Imagine that you have finally decided to forego traditional knee, shoulder, or hip surgery in favor of this newer, less invasive procedure: stem cell therapy. Your doctor explained that stem cells are found in body fat, and that they will simply inject this fat, harvested from your own body, into your injured or failing joint, and…. voila! Your joint will begin to feel better as the stem cells begin to repair the damage in your joint, naturally, at the cellular level.
You are so excited at the prospect of living with a pain-free, functioning joint without undergoing major surgery, that you arrive at the doctor’s office, extremely eager to have this new stem cell therapy performed.
Why Does Your Joint Still Hurt?
Now, imagine it is weeks later, and there is absolutely no improvement in your joint. Nothing has changed. Why didn’t your stem cell procedure work?
Let’s take a few steps back from when you first decided to have stem cell therapy. Did you check to see what training, credentials, and experience your doctor had performing stem cell therapy? Probably not. After all, this is a rather new area of medicine called regenerative medicine, and you trusted that the doctor and his staff knew what they were doing.
So, what happened? You are shocked to discover from a different physician – a surgeon who is trained and experienced in stem cell transplantation therapy – that you never received stem cell treatment at all! In fact, what you really got from your previous doctor (who, it turns out, has no training in stem cell transplantation) was just plain fat, containing no stem cells, injected into your joint! How could this happen?
Stem Cell Product Quality is Essential to Successful Stem Cell Therapy
As is the case with any transplant medical procedure, you need to research the quality of the material being used in any stem cell transplantation. There are different levels of quality in this “product”, and you need to make certain you are receiving transplantation material that contains a high number of living stem cells.
Stem Cell Harvesting Issues You Need to Know
How stem cells are harvested is of the utmost importance. Here are some things to know:
- Know the source of the stem cells being used: Make sure your doctor has done their due diligence, insofar as knowing the pedigree of sourced stem cell product, and that it is registered with the FDA. They should happily provide you with this information, so you can confirm it on your own.
- Harvesting Technique is Critical: The location where the stem cells are harvested matters…a lot. They are more plentiful and of better quality in some places of the body than others. Just like in real estate, it is all about location, location, location. This will play a big role in the efficacy of treatment.
- Make sure the clinic has done its own verification of the amount of living cells in the tissue being used in your transplant.
- If you are using stem cells from your own body, make sure of the following: there is an independent laboratory verifying the viability and amount of live stem cells in your donated material. Determine if the cells can be cultured to produce more stem cells.
Proper Doctor Training is Essential to Successful Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell transplantation is a very new area of medicine, and some doctors are “jumping on the bandwagon” and offering stem cell services, even though it is an area of medicine where they have received no specific training. Specializing in one field simply does not make you good at an associated field. There is much to learn, from practicing image guided joint injection to verifying that the product they are injecting actually contains live stem cells, and a whole lot in between. How the doctor transplants the stem cells is a critical step in this procedure being effective. For example:
- Doctors need to administer stem cell injections in an office that uses fluoroscopy or ultrasound image guidance to place the live stem cells precisely into the targeted area. Blind injections miss the target area completely, offering no therapy to the injured portion of the joint that needs the stem cells. Your doctor should have received training in image assisted injections to properly perform transplantation of stem cells.
- Your Doctor Needs Two Types of Imaging Devices: Make certain your doctor’s office has both fluoroscopy and ultrasound imaging available, as some points within a joint can be more accurately accessed with one technology over the other.
- Experience Counts: Just as you probably would not want to be the first (or even the fifth) patient of a heart surgeon learning a new procedure by practicing on their patients, the same is true with stem cell implantation.
The IOF (Interventional Orthopedics Foundation) Can Help Find a Qualified Physician
The newly formed Interventional Orthopedics Foundation (IOF), a 501c3 non-profit group dedicated to providing education about regenerative orthopedic medicine in the growing field of interventional orthopedics formed in 2015, to serve as a resource to physicians and the public.
Successful Stem Cell Treatment is Directly Related to your Doctor’s Training and Experience
As we venture into this brave new world of regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy, we need to always keep in mind that this is still an area of surgery, and it does contain some risks. Make certain you discuss this with your doctor. And, because you are having living cells injected into your body, you need to understand the risks this material may pose, as well as the risks of the actual procedure.
Remember, that the success of your treatment is directly related to your doctor’s training, knowledge, and experience with the stem cell transplantation procedure and the material being used.
If you are seeking a well-trained, experienced, highly qualified doctor for stem cell therapy, and an acknowledged expert in regenerative medicine, contact David Mayer, MD, JD, FICS, a stem cell physician with offices in NYC and Long Island, NY.
In addition to many years of training and experience as a surgeon in traditional medicine at world renowned medical institutions, Dr. Mayer is part of a global stem cell network of physicians who are part of an active Institutional Review Board (IRB) study on stem cell treatments, filed with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Call National Stem Cell Centers at (646) 448-0427 (New York) or (516) 403-1457 (Long Island) today to find out if stem cell therapies are right for you, and to schedule your complimentary consultation.