In the past year, doctors published numerous studies to highlight their findings that stem cell therapy from both bone marrow and fat sources show significant results in the repair of rotator cuff, meniscus, cartilage, and osteoarthritis problems including bone on bone knee.1,2
Now sports surgeons are jumping on board. Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh called biologic agents (blood platelets and stem cells) the mainstay of nonoperative therapy in the high-demand athletic population. Both platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells have shown in animal and clinical studies improved outcomes. This includes PRP treatment in early osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as in chronic patellar tendinopathy. Early clinical evidence also lends support for PRP in the augmentation of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Studies assessing the utility of stem cells have shown encouraging results in the setting of osteoarthritis. 3
Writing in the medical journal Arthroscopy, researchers documented improvement with Mesenchymal Stem Cell Injections in patients with knee osteoarthritis. They noted significant reduction in pain, significant improvement in function, and MRI documented cartilage growth. 4
More research offers confirmation. “The potential of intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been evaluated in six osteoarthritic patients….During a one-year follow-up period – comparison of magnetic resonance images (MRI) at baseline and six months post-stem cell injection displayed an increase in cartilage thickness, extension of the repair tissue over the subchondral bone and a considerable decrease in the size of edematous subchondral patches in three out of six patients. 5
Combining PRP and Stem Cells in Knee Treatments
The area of injury or arthritis is treated with both stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP). If stem cells are the seeds in the lawn, PRP is the fertilizer that helps the lawn grow. PRP, a combination of growth factors and platelets naturally found in the body, provides cell signals and nourishment to help the stem cells flourish and develop into new joints, ligaments, tendons, and other body parts. PRP not only triggers stem cell development, but can also help stem cells regenerate on their own inside the body, and can also attract circulating stem cells to the area of injury. We have used PRP alone in the treatment of many injuries and pain problems.
Most cases of stem cell and PRP treatments are successful, and avoid the pain, disability, down time, and risk associated with major surgery. There is minimal recovery from a stem cell or PRP treatment, usually mediated by soreness in the area that was treated, and there is also a risk of bruising. There have been no reports of serious adverse effects in the scientific literature when adult mesenchymal stem cells are used in these procedures. Afterwards, the patient is encouraged to use the joint normally, and follow up treatments of PRP are given in monthly intervals to continue to allow the stem cells to do their work. Since stem cell treatment is very safe, it can be repeated in the joint if necessary to obtain optimal results. Also, having treatment with stem cells would not make a person ineligible for surgery.
This short video shows one of our patients with severe arthritis and pain in both of his knees. Everyday life, including walking and stairs was painful, and performing any exercise was extremely difficult. Now he is about 3 months after stem cell treatment of both knees, performed at the same time, with minimal recovery, and now look at what he can do!!!
We have had the opportunity to treat anyone from professional athletes to patients who have suffered for decades with chronic pain, and invite you to schedule a consultation with us to see how we can help you.
1. Pak J, Lee JH, Lee SH. Regenerative repair of damaged meniscus with autologous adipose tissue-derived stem cells. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:436029. doi: 10.1155/2014/436029. Epub 2014 Jan 30.
2. Anz AW, Hackel JG, Nilssen EC, Andrews JR. Application of biologics in the treatment of the rotator cuff, meniscus, cartilage, and osteoarthritis. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 Feb;22(2):68-79. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-22-02-68.
3. Kopka M, Bradley JP. The Use of Biologic Agents in Athletes with Knee Injuries. J Knee Surg. 2016 May 20. [Epub ahead of print]
4. Koh YG, Jo SB, Kwon OR, Suh DS, Lee SW, Park SH, Choi YJ. Mesenchymal Stem Cell Injections Improve Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis. Arthroscopy. 2013 Jan 29. pii: S0749-8063(12)01884-1. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.11.017. [Epub ahead of print]
5. Emadedin M, Aghdami N, Taghiyar L, Fazeli R, Moghadasali R, Jahangir S, Farjad R, Baghaban Eslaminejad M. Intra-articular injection of autologous mesenchymal stem cells in six patients with knee osteoarthritis. Arch Iran Med. 2012 Jul;15(7):422-8.