Does Stem Cell Therapy for Knees Work?
The question everyone wants to know about stem cells is: “Do they work?”. We now have numerous studies that allow us to answer this question with confidence. The seven most common questions for stem cells used for knee pain are:
Answer: Yes. Numerous studies show that stem cells from fat and other sources improve or greatly improve knee pain. In these studies almost all patients saw improvement and most saw significant improvement.
Answer: Yes. Knee mobility and function are consistently improved.
Answer: Yes. Several studies show new cartilage growth using MRI. Studies using arthroscopy also show maintenance or improvement in cartilage for up to 2 years. This is true even in patients over 65 years of age.
Answer: Yes. At least one study shows that patients with great cartilage damage and more bone spurring actually have a greater response to stem cells.
Answer: At least 2-5 years. The effects may last longer but at this time the studies do not extend further than 5 years.
Answer: All common sources show a good response. However, stem cells from fat may show a greater reduction in pain and increase in mobility.
Answer: Yes. Stem cells used for knee pain have been shown to have a “whole body” anti-inflammatory effect. This effect lasts for several months after the procedure.
All of the studies show that stem cell procedures for knees are very safe. Very few side effects are reported. The side effects reported are typically related to obtaining the stem cells. Although we still have much to learn, stem cells for knee pain have been shown to be safe and effective.
Stem cell therapy for knee pain is performed at both of our Dallas and Fort Worth practice locations.
What causes knee pain?
Knee pain occurs when an injury or chronic condition impacts the ligaments, tendons, fluid-sacs (bursae), bones, joints, and cartilage around the knee. Your knees play an important role in your day-to-day activities. So, when something isn’t quite right, you’re almost certain to notice. The most common causes include:
- Ligament injuries — including ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament)
- Torn, damaged, or worn meniscus (the cartilage pad in your knee)
- Knee bursitis (inflammation of the soft tissues around the knee)
- Patellar (knee cap) tendinitis
- Arthritis and other chronic conditions
Knee Pain Treatment Options
While some knee pain can be eased with rest, ice, compression, and elevation, more severe conditions may require minor or major surgery. At least, that used to be the only two options. Now stem cells are being used as an alternative (to some knee surgeries). This includes surgeries up to partial and total knee replacement surgeries.
Stem Cells for Knee Pain
Innovations Medical treats many of the causes of knee pain by deploying stem cells (SVF – see “How are adult stem cells harvested from fat? In FAQ below) through injection. It includes deploying stem cells through an IV. The benefits of IV deployment include the ability to reach less involved joints and tissues and to reduce inflammation. For more information about stem cells for knees, read our blog: Stem Cell Therapy Series: Healing Knees
Am I a candidate for stem cells for knee pain?
The most viable candidates for stem cells to relieve knee pain are those who haven’t been responding to other forms of treatment, those who want to avoid the recommended treatment for their condition — such as surgery — and patients for whom nothing has been effective. Patients who have early symptoms and want to be proactive are also good candidates. SVF stem cell therapy is minimally invasive, which gives patients an alternative to painful surgery and the lengthy recovery process.
Good Candidates for Stem Cells
- Persons who are medically stable enough to have minor surgery under local anesthesia performed — in some cases of chronically ill patients, we may request a surgical clearance from your doctor.
- Persons not taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) or who can stop them for two to four days around the procedure. When necessary, some anticoagulants can be continued during stem cell treatment. This should be discussed with your Innovations doctor before your procedure.
- Persons seeking to avoid joint replacement surgery — such as partial or total knee replacement surgery.
- Persons who have inadequate treatment or unwanted side effects on their knee medications.
- Persons seeking to maintain joint health and avoid future problems with their knees.
Cost of Stem Cell Treatments
The cost of the initial stem cell treatment ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. The cost is dependent on the complexity of delivering the cells back to you. For many people, the initial treatment is all that is needed. But, for some conditions, subsequent treatments may be required — and these are done at a reduced fee.