What is Autologous Stem Cell Treatment (ASC):
The Stem Cell therapy provided at Palmetto Spine & Sports Medicine is a point of care treatment that allows for minimal manipulation of cells which are harvested and injected into the treatment area on the same day. This therapy has the potential to help accelerate healing in moderate to severe osteoarthritis, as well as tendon/ligament injuries.
There are two types of stem cells associated with tissue healing: mesenchymal (MSC’s) and hematopoietic (HSC). These cells act as your body’s repairmen with the guidance of cytokines. MSC’s prepare the injured area for other stem cells to do their work. They travel to the site of injury via the bloodstream and are important, but not as important as once thought. HSC’s are the actual drivers of tissue repair/regeneration and their numbers do not decrease with age, as MSC’s do.
What conditions do we treat with AMC?
Obtaining and preparing these powerful regenerative cells is relatively pain free and simple. Following an evaluation and a diagnostic work-up, we can determine if stem cell therapy is an appropriate treatment option for you. We will obtain a bone marrow aspirate (removal by suctioning) from the back of your pelvis, and/or fat tissue (lipo-aspirate) from your lower abdomen or lateral hip region. A combination of bone marrow and lipo-aspirate cells is used for severe osteoarthritis. Other conditions may need only lipo-aspirate and platelet rich plasma (PRP). Once the cells are ready, they will be injected into the area we are treating the same day.
Once the cells are reintroduced into the injured area along with the PRP, the platelets release growth factors (signal molecules). These growth factors or cytokines, in concert with platelets and stem cells, are responsible for repair of the injured area. This repair process usually takes about 2-3 months, but you may notice reduction in pain and increased function before that time period. Next we will provide follow-up PRP injections at 4 weeks and 8 weeks after the original treatment injection. These follow-up PRP injections allow the stem cells to continue to repair and regenerate cartilage tissue.
In addition to the injections, you will also be instructed to take supplements to enhance the healing process. These supplements will include specific cytokines to be taken orally, to enhance and sustain the stem cell, and PRP injections, boosting their therapeutic effects. Also, we will recommend taking a supplement called Stem Xcell which contains a patented blend NT020 developed by a leading university which has been shown to promote the growth and health of stem cells. Also, in both acute and chronic injuries, an exercise or rehabilitation program may be used to enhance the success of the treatment.
Are ASC injections safe?
Research and clinical data show that ASC injections are extremely safe, with minimal risk for any adverse reaction or complication. Because the injectable products are produced from your own blood, there is no concern for rejection or disease transmission. There is a small risk of infection from any injection into the body, but this is rare. Of note, recent research suggests that PRP may have an anti-bacterial property which protects against possible infection (4).
What to expect after your treatment:
Often, following the initial injection, an "achy" soreness is felt at the site of injury. This "soreness" is a positive sign that a healing response has been set in motion. This effect can last for several days and gradually decreases as healing and tissue repair occurs. It is important that anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin be avoided following PRP treatments. These medicines may block the effects of the intended healing response facilitated by the injection itself. It is acceptable to use over the counter pain medication, such as Tylenol and in some cases a prescribed analgesic, which does not have anti-inflammatory properties, to control discomfort as needed. Pain management options will be discussed with you by the physician managing your treatment plan. You will be permitted to resume normal day to day activities and light exercise following injection. We suggest that you avoid strenuous lifting or high level exercise for at least several days after injection.