What should you do if you tear your meniscus? We discuss prognosis, recovery time, and treatment options, including alternatives to surgery.
Before we get into the why’s, how’s and what’s of our treatments, let’s get one important thing squared away: the term “stem cell therapy” is a big, commonly used umbrella term for a bunch of different stuff and, at least the way we see it, kind of a misnomer. We prefer to think of the work we do as regenerative cell therapy.
We prefer the term regenerative cell therapy because it is closer to the truth of what we do here at PreciseCare. Our treatments allow you to harness the regenerative properties of your own stem cells to help other “pre-programmed” (we’ll get to that in a minute) cells that might be having trouble recovering after an illness or injury. These stem cells help regrow your naturally occurring tissues to be stronger and better able to heal.
It sounds like something straight out of Star Trek, we know, but the reality is, regenerative medicine holds real potential for many patients.
Phew, that’s a lot of questions all at once. Let’s break it down to help make all this easier to understand.
As humans, we grow from one cell that multiplies and differentiates into various organ systems. Each organ system retains their specific stem cells, and these constantly renew that particular organ system over our lifetime. If that makes you feel kind of like a giant starfish, that’s okay because it’s kind of the same thing—but our regeneration can only happen inside ourselves. This is the fundamental basis of our existence, at least of our physical existence.
These regenerative properties lead us to the possibilities of treating diseases and disorders involving particular organ systems by utilizing our own stem cells present in that system.
Typically for orthopedic and sports-related injuries, stem cells (regenerative cells) can be found in three places: bone marrow, blood, and fat.
Bone marrow stem cells are of very high quality, as the function of bone marrow is to constantly produce cells. These type of stem cells contain lots of good growth factors as well as other substances that aid in cell growth and regeneration. Bone marrow stem cells have the easiest time adapting to cells in other parts of the body. When someone gets a bone marrow transplant, what they’re really getting is an intense dose of these healthy stem cells.
Fat is also a good source of stem cells and has plenty of cells. The challenge with fat is the isolation process (which we’ll talk about more later).
When you break down fat, it has to be done in a way that maintains an adequate amount of stem cell. Because this process can be a bit tricky, some clinics will inject pure fat, claiming that it is stem cell therapy. This approach is not only misleading but also provides inadequate benefit to patients receiving the treatment.
Blood contains certain valuable cells, proteins, and growth factors that can help with the regeneration of fat and bone marrow cells. Isolating and injecting PRP (platelet-rich plasma), PPP (platelet-poor plasma), and A2M (alpha 2 macroglobulin) help provides a very robust environment in which your stem cells can thrive and grow.
When it comes to understanding the different sources of regenerative cells, here’s a good analogy. Think about bone marrow and fat stem cells as the seeds. Then, your blood cells act as a strong fertilizer. Used together, all of these sources provide an optimal environment for regeneration!
The most important thing you need to know about stem cell therapy is that there is no standardized protocol (yet) surrounding the harvesting and use of stem cells. This means one doctor might use one type of stem cells and another doctor may choose to work with a different type. Some doctors like to combine the different types of stem cells for their treatments.
At our clinic, we tailor our approach to our individual patients and harvest regenerative cells from the source(s) we believe to be best suited to their treatment.
Before you panic about the idea of a bone marrow transplant, you should know that the bone marrow harvesting process has changed considerably. It is no longer the extremely painful procedure it once was. Using current techniques and tools (if done properly), bone marrow extraction should be relatively painless.
Likewise, harvesting fat has become easier as well and involves a minor liposuction procedure. However, it is important to understand that the techniques and tools are very different from those used in cosmetic and plastic surgery. Your fat stem cells are precious and need to be obtained with as little trauma as possible.
If you’re thinking about undergoing a stem cell treatment, don’t move forward unless the prescribed protocol includes stem cell cells in a high concentration from all three sources mentioned above. Otherwise, you may not see the desired results.
There are three important aspects involved in the procedure of regenerative cell therapies: harvesting, isolation, and delivery.
Harvesting is the collection of tissue from the part of your body where the stem cells are located. It’s critically important during this process that (1) enough stem cells are collected and (2) they aren’t damaged when being harvested.
Isolation is the breaking down of that harvested tissue to isolate the stem cells. The methods used to isolate your cells will determine the quantity and quality. If performed incorrectly, your stem cells viability will be impacted. It’s vital that the isolation process is done according to good tissue practices and FDA guidelines.
Delivery is exactly what it sounds like. After your stem cells are isolated, they are delivered into your body either via injection. However, in order to achieve the results, you are hoping for, the precise delivery of cells is extremely important. If the stem cells don’t reach the area of disease or injury, you will obviously not experience many benefits.
Think of these 3 steps (harvesting, isolation, and delivery) as the “3 Pillars” of successful stem cell therapy.
Equally as important, is the duration over which these 3 pillars are performed. All 3 steps should be performed in a single sitting as a same-day outpatient procedure. Otherwise, you risk working with a clinic that manipulates your cells, which holds a number of risks and can impact the benefit received from this treatment.
The truth of the matter is, regenerative medicine is complicated. And for that reason, it’s important to work with a specialist who is an expert in the field, rather than a doctor who has added the therapy as a side revenue stream to their practice.
Be assured, here at PreciseCare, we walk you through each step and make sure that you're comfortable through the entire treatment process.
It’s important that you ask many questions when considering a stem cell treatment provider so that you can maximize the results you see from this procedure.
Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is, stem cell therapy is a unique and ground-breaking treatment that has the power to reshape how we manage our health problems. Being able to avoid surgery, get treated in one sitting, and harness the natural power of your own body to heal your illness or injury is certainly revolutionary.
As with pretty much everything, your recovery is going to depend as much on you as it will on the treatment protocol used. Your overall health, whether your specific injury requires additional physical therapy, how dedicated you are to that physical therapy and maintaining your overall health—these will factor into the duration of your recovery process.
That being said, most patients feel a little better every day. It might take a month or so to feel demonstrably better, so don’t panic if you aren’t running marathons a few days after your treatment.
You should also know that, because of the nature of this treatment (regenerating your own tissues), you’ll likely see peak improvement at the 6-8-month mark.
The treatment in which we specialize—using a patient’s own cells to help heal orthopedic and sports injuries —shows a lot of promise, especially for problems involving cartilage, menisci, ligaments, muscles, & spine. That said, it is still a relatively new treatment and there is still a lot to learn. The Industry is still collecting data to help the FDA figure out what sort of protocols and regulations are needed.
If you’ve been suffering from a sports injury, arthritis, or back pain, the best thing you can do is to speak with a specialist who can help you understand all the treatment options that are available. Book an evaluation to find out if stem cell treatment at PreciseCare is right for you.
Or call 949-734-9696 to request additional information.
4425 Jamboree Road, Suite 120
Newport Beach, CA USA 92660
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