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 the treatment of various orthopedic, 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, the necessary amount of stem cells is not present at the injured area. The goal of stem cell therapy is to amplify this natural repair system by increasing the numbers of stem cells at the injury site.
Types of Stem Cells
There are two major types of stem cells; embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are stem cells derived from human embryos. They are pluripotent, which means they have the ability to develop into almost any of the various cell types of the body.
As the embryo develops and forms a baby, stem cells are distributed throughout the body, where they reside in specific pockets of tissue such as the bone marrow and blood. As we age, these cells function to renew old and worn-out tissues and cells. These are called adult stem cells or somatic stem cells. Like embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells can also turn into more than one cell type, but their differentiation is restricted to a limited number of cell types.
Use of Stem Cells in Orthopedics
The unique self-regenerating and differentiating ability of embryonic stem cells can be used in regenerative medicine.
Adult stem cells can be harvested from many areas in the body including adipose tissue (fat), bone marrow, and peripheral blood. The mesenchymal stem cells are most commonly harvested for stem cell therapy. These have the ability to turn into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage and are usually obtained from the bone marrow. A needle is inserted into the iliac crest of the pelvic bone to extract the stem cells from the bone marrow.
Currently, stem cell therapy is used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulders, knees, hips, and spine. Stem cells are also being used in the treatment of various soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons as well as bone-related injuries.
Application of Stem Cells in the Treatment of Hip Injuries/Conditions
Stem cell therapy can be used to treat various hip injuries and conditions such as:
- Joint Arthritis
- Trochanteric Bursitis
- Iliopsoas Bursitis
- Labrum Tear
- Osteonecrosis of the Femoral Head
- Iliopsoas/iliotibial Band Tendinitis
Who is a Good Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy?
You may be a good candidate for stem cell therapy if you have been suffering from pain due to any of the above injuries or conditions and want to improve your quality of life while avoiding complications related to invasive surgical procedures.
Stem Cell Therapy Procedure for the Hip
If you decide to use amnion cells, these cells come prepackaged and do not need to be harvested from your body. They are typically injected under light sedation in the surgery center. The procedure only takes a few minutes.
If you decide to use your own stem cells, they will need to be harvested. The procedure begins with your doctor extracting stem cells from your own bone marrow. Bone marrow is usually aspirated from the pelvic bone. Your doctor will first clean and numb your hip area. A needle is then introduced into an area of your pelvic bone known as the iliac crest. Bone marrow is then aspirated using a special syringe and the sample obtained is sent to the laboratory. In the laboratory, the aspirate is spun in a machine for 10 to 15 minutes and a concentrated stem cell sample is separated.
Your doctor then cleans and numbs the area of your hip requiring treatment and under the guidance of special X-rays, injects the stem cells into the region. The whole procedure usually takes less than one hour, and you may return home on the same day.
Postoperative Care for Stem Cell Therapy
- You may have swelling and discomfort in the joint up to 48 hours after the injection as your body has an expected reaction to the stem cells.
- You will need to refrain from taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for a while as this can affect your healing process.
Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is a relatively simple procedure that avoids the complications associated with invasive surgical procedures. This can provide extended relief in the affected joint when other treatments have failed. This can allow decrease in pain, stiffness and allow