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What is stem cell therapy for orthopedic conditions?

Stem cell therapy is a medical treatment for a wide range of diseases and injuries. Stem cell therapy for orthopedic conditions involves injecting your own processed bone marrow into an injured bone or joint. Bone marrow contains a certain type of stem cell that may help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and create healthy new tissue. 

A stem cell is a type of “simple” cell. The stem cell can produce many different types of more complex and specialized cells in the body when it divides. Stem cells can help create healthy new tissue where tissues have died. Stem cells also appear to help repair cells in tissues that are injured or have been damaged by disease.

Stem cell therapy for orthopedic conditions is a relatively new medical treatment that researchers are actively investigating. Some treatments may only be available through a clinical trial at this time. The procedure is only one method used to treat orthopedic conditions. Discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you.

Other procedures that may be performed

Doctors use stem cell therapy by itself or with other procedures to treat certain orthopedic injuries or diseases. These will vary depending on the specific disease or injury, and upon your doctor’s preferred techniques. Other procedures include:

  • Bone grafts to replace missing bone with a piece of healthy bone from another part of the body
  • Fat grafts to inject fat from another place in the body into the injured area. Fat grafts help prevent some joint complications. Fat also contains some types of stem cells. 
  • Physical therapy to improve joint mobility and function and quality of life
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to promote tissue healing
  • Prolotherapy injection to stimulate healing
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 5, 2013

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Medical References

FAQ’s. Centeno-Schultz Clinic. http://www.regenexx.com/common-questions/. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Frequently Asked Questions About Stem Cells. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00509. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections. Hospital for Special Surgery. http://www.hss.edu/condition-list_prp-injections.asp. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Prolotherapy. Hemwall Center for Orthopedic Regenerative Medicine. http://www.prolotherapy.com/. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Questions and Answers about Osteonecrosis (Avascular Necrosis). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteonecrosis/. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Regenexx-AD Fat Graft Survival. Centeno-Schultz Clinic. http://www.regenexx.com/regenexx-ad-fat-graft-survival/. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Regenexx-SD (Same-Day) Stem Cell Procedure Overview. Centeno-Schultz Clinic. http://www.regenexx.com/regenexx-procedures-family/the-regenexx-procedure-explained/. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Stem Cell Basics/What are adult stem cells? National Institutes of Health. http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/pages/basics4.aspx. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Stem Cell Injection Therapy. Valley Sports Physicians and Orthopedic Medicine. http://www.jockdoctors.com/page.asp?id=51&name=Stem%20Cell%20Injections. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Stem Cell Therapy in Orthopaedics. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/feb12/research2.asp. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Stem Cells and Orthopaedics. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00501. Accessed July 24, 2013.

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