Patients Guide to Stem Cell Therapy
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions.
Stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissues, and have shown promising results in treatments of various orthopaedic, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and autoimmune conditions.
Stem cells are present in all of us acting like a repair system for the body. However, with increased age sometimes the necessary amounts of stem cells are not present at the injured area. The goal of stem cell therapy is to amplify the natural repair system of the patient’s body by increasing the numbers of stem cells at injury sites.
How can stem cell therapy be used to treat orthopaedic conditions?
Use of Stem Cells in Orthopaedics
The unique self-regeneration and differentiating ability of embryonic stem cells can be used in regenerative medicine. These stem cells can be derived from eggs collected during IVF procedures with informed consent from the patient. However, many questions have been raised on the ethics of destroying a potential human life for the treatment of another.
Adult stem cells can be harvested from many areas in the body. These include adipose tissue (fat), bone marrow and peripheral blood. The mesenchymal stem cell is the most commonly harvested. These have the ability to turn into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. To obtain stem cells from the bone marrow, a needle is inserted into the iliac crest of the pelvic bone to extract the stem cells.
Currently, stem cell therapy is used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulder, knees, hips, and spine. Stem cells are also being used in the treatment of various soft tissue (muscle, ligaments and tendons) as well as bone-related injuries.
You may be a good candidate for stem cell therapy if you have been suffering from joint pain and want to improve your quality of life while avoiding complications related to invasive surgical procedures.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of stem cell therapy?
- Stem cell therapy is a relatively simple procedure that avoids the complications associated with invasive surgical procedures.
- As stem cell therapy uses the cells derived from your own body it reduces the chances of an immune rejection.
- There is a general lack of data about the long-term effects of stem cell therapy as it is a newer procedure and represents a newer form of treatment.
What are the risks and complications of stem cell therapy?
Risks and complications
Stem cell therapy is generally considered a safe procedure with minimal complications, however, as with any medical procedure, complications can occur.
Some risks factors related to stem cell therapy include infection as bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that can cause disease may be introduced during the preparation process.
The procedure to either remove or inject the cells also has the risk of introducing an infection to the damaged tissue into which they are injected. Rarely, an immune reaction may occur from injected stem cells.