Adult Stem Cell Therapy FAQs

Scientists and doctors have made tremendous advances to make tissue regeneration a reality in treating many diseases. Through regenerative medicine, a person can take advantage of their body’s ability to heal itself by using the healthy stem cells that can be found throughout the body. Laboratory and clinical research has shown that it is possible to use stem cells to restore lost, damaged or aging cells and effectively regenerate tissue in the body.

What are adult stem cells?

Stem cells were discovered over 40 years ago when researchers found that cells derived from bone marrow had the ability to form various tissues. They are responsible for everyday tissue remodeling and turnover.

There are several types of “adult stem cells” and the main workhorse for this therapy are called Mesenchymal Stem Cells (“MSCs”).

MSCs are tissue-based stem cells and found throughout the body in all or most vascular tissues. They do not circulate through the blood stream but are attached to the blood vessels (known as pericytes). When an injury or trauma occurs, MSCs either mechanically detach because of the trauma or receive chemical signaling from the microenvironment to go off and respond to an injury.

Activated MSCs naturally works to reduce inflammation, prevent cell death, prevent infection, and generate new blood vessels.

Why is it more difficult to recover and heal from injuries or trauma as we get older?

As we get older, we produce less and less stem cells. When trauma or an injury occurs, there just simply aren’t enough stem cells available to do the work as when we were younger.

Another reason is there are some areas of injuries that do not have blood vessels close by or lack a sufficient “scaffold” to rebuild and remodel the area, like the knee joint.

And sometimes some conditions, like those that dealing with degenerated cartilage, cannot overcome the inflammation stage of healing.

By undergoing an adult stem cell procedure, you are taking your stem cells from an area of high concentration, like your hip bone, and transplanting them directly to the site of injury for them to start addressing the entire microenvironment.

How many stem cells do I need for an effective treatment?

Published clinical data, like Hernigou’s rotator cuff and avascular necrosis studies, analyzed the concentrations of MSCs (CFU-F), showed that the number of MSCs returned back to the patient to treat the site of injury had a strong correlation to the patient’s outcomes. The numbers aren’t in the millions, but rather in the thousands.

Are my stem cells grown in a lab?

Adult stem cell therapy is a point-of-care procedure, and it does not involve growing stem cells in a lab. Clinics who are offering this service may be subject to FDA scrutiny if they do not comply with regulations.

How much does an adult stem cell procedure cost?

The average cost of an adult stem cell procedure ranges between $3500 to $7000, and is generally based upon the joint being treated.

Currently, private insurance, Mediacare, Medicaid, and Workers Compensation do not cover these procedures. Please contact MedRebels to learn more about ways to finance your procedure.

Is this therapy cleared by the FDA?

Doctors draw bone marrow from your hip and then concentrate it using an FDA-cleared device. Unlike procedures which process fat with enzymes or use living foreign cells like amniotic products, bone marrow concentration is carried out using your own cells with minimal manipulation at point-of-care, which meets the FDAs definition of the practice of medicine.

Where do adult stem cells come from?

In adults, stem cells are present within variety of tissues and organs, the most common sources being bone marrow and fat (or adipose) tissue. At present, the majority of adult stem cell procedures utilize bone marrow derived stem cells.

How are adult stem cells obtained, prepared, and delivered?

A bone-marrow derived stem cell therapy generally takes 45-minutes. During your procedure, the physician will use a needle to withdraw bone marrow from hip (5 minutes). A trained nurse or technician then uses specifically designed equipment to concentrate the adult stem cells and growth factors present in the bone marrow (15 minutes). Finally, the physician will deliver your concentrated stem cells back to the targeted area(s).

How do I prepare for an adult stem cell procedure?

Prior to your procedure, your physician will ask you to withhold anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Aleve, Naproxen, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aspirin) at least 5 days prior to the injection.

Because of the nature of stem cells, the area being treated needs to be in its most natural state in order for them to appropriately address the injury and how to best respond.

What is the recovery period like?

After a joint injection, you can typically go back to work. Immediately. It is advised to avoid load-bearing activities for at least 2 weeks. After a disc injection, you should rest for 2-3 days and try to stay off your feet. In any stem cell procedure, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) should be withheld for 72 hours pre-procedure and one week post-procedure.

How long will it take until I feel relief or gain functionality?

Every patient is different, and the different areas being treated produce different results. Physicians have reported at emerging Regenerative Medicine conferences that with a patient feels relief from a knee within 3 weeks; for disc injections (spine), around 3 months.

This therapy is not like a steroid injection, which tends to show a rapid effect. Autologous bone marrow concentrate stem cells need time to address the microenvironment that is causing the pain, and then figure out what the best way is to respond to it.

How long will I feel relief or maintain functionality after an adult stem cell therapy procedure?

Every patient’s condition is different, so every outcome will inherently be different. Published studies have shown that utilizing adult stem cells to treat a condition or add to a surgical intervention produce better outcomes than traditional treatments and surgical methods.

A recent study published in International Orthopaedics showed that 21 out of 26 patients who received an autologous bone marrow concentrate stem cell injection to treat 1 to 2 level degenerating discs were stable and had lower pain scores past 2 years. (Pettine et al, 2015)

Also published in International Orthopaedics, Hernigou et al showed that bone marrow-derived stem cell injection added to a rotator cuff repair “enhanced the healing rate and improved the quality of life of the repaired surface…” (Hernigou et al, 2014)