A nice article was recently published at snocountry.com, questioning whether stem cell treatments for the ACL are a “quantum shift” in medicine. Stem cell therapy has shown promising results when compared to traditional surgeries for non-retracted ACL tears and injuries. We are proud to be on the leading edge of these new treatments and articles like these will become more commonplace as athletes become more aware of less invasive alternatives to heal common injuries.
Bob Wislow, 68; Bruce Snyder, 42; and Jacob Gillis, 19, all sought an alternative to surgery that enabled them to regain their high level of activity and remain pain free.
Snyder is a runner, cyclist, and weekend warrior, who tore his meniscus playing soccer. Colorado University student Jacob Gillis, 19, was skiing last spring when he landed awkwardly and heard a “pop” in his knee. An MRI of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) showed a partial tear.
Increasing your sugar may have a bad effect on your health. Dr. Mayo Friedlis, with National Spine and Pain Centers and StemCell ARTS, joined MYFOX5DC with advice on managing one’s sugar intake and the long-term effect of sugar on one’s joints.
To read more about the actual study that was the subject of this news story, click here
WUSA TV News recently featured Dr. Mayo Friedlis in a segment focused on Stem Cell Therapy for damaged and arthritic joints. The story looks at the return to an active lifestyle of a StemCell ARTS patient who underwent stem cell therapy for knee problems following arthroscopic surgery and physical therapy. Dr. Mayo Friedlis of StemCell ARTS also discusses the Regenexx Stem Cell Procedures and the science behind stem cell therapy.
Members of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) attended along with area athletic trainers, physical therapists and sports medicine-oriented healthcare providers, Dr. Wagner discussed how stem cells and platelets promote better healing of injured tissues, what types of injuries can be effectively treated with stem cell and platelet injections, and outlined which patients are good and bad candidates for Regenerative Medicine techniques. These techniques are performed at Stem Cell Arts (www.stemcellarts.com) in Fairfax, Virginia by Mayo Friedlis, MD, Robert Wagner, MD and Rodney Dade, MD.
Other speakers at the conference included: Seminar 2013 Faculty-Annual Sports Medicine Symposium Program Director, Sameer Nagda, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic [Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine; Team Physician Potomac Nationals Baseball Team]; George C. Branche, III, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic [Sports Medicine Consultant, Walter Reed Army, Medical Center; Clinical Preceptor, Physician Assistant Program, The George Washington University; Clinical Assistant Professor, Georgetown University School of Medicine; Consultant, ATP Tennis Tour]; J. Greg Bennett, PT, DSc, MS Adjunct Faculty, Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Marymount University School of Physical Therapy; President, Excel Physical Therapy; Wiemi Douoguih, MD Orthopedic Surgeon, Director of Sports Medicine for MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; Medical Director – Washington Nationals Baseball Team (MLB); Cassie Gyuricza Root, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon/Hand Specialist Nirschl Orthopaedic Center; Stephen Saddler, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic; Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine; Medical Director, Potomac Nationals Baseball Team; Robert H. Wagner, MD Pain Management Specialist Expert in PRP and Prolotherapy National Spine & Pain Center; Brent Wiesel, MD, Chief of Shoulder Surgery, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Our Dr. Robert Wagner was recently interviewed on WMAL Radio, where he discussed the causes, diagnosis and treatment of common overuse conditions such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and other non-sports related scenarios that lead to painful joints. He also explains some of the common treatments that we use for these conditions, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Prolotherapy.
FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) — For hardcore 30-year-old athletes to baby boomers, achy and worn out joints can literally be a pain.
Cateena Powers know about the pain, after years of athletic competition and training she developed arthritis in both knees.
She didn’t necessarily want to have her knees replaced. Especially after she found about a new stem cell therapy that can regenerate her current knees.
Powers says, “So I did the right knee first and it’s a series of injections.”
“I would say I started to feel a difference maybe in about two days after that series of injections… two days! And then the next week I saw some definition in my knee. I thought, I can see my knee cap oh my gosh! So I said, i’m doing the left one.”
A new platelet-rich-therapy (PRP) called Regenexx is the latest in a number of PRP therapies that are growing in popularity.
These PRP therapies use the patient’s own stem cells to regenerate areas of the body that tend to wear down over time. This is used for a lot of conditions that used to require open surgery.
StemCell Arts in Fairfax is the only clinic in the Washington, D.C. metro area that offers this procedure.
Dr. Mayo Friedlis of StemCell Arts in Fairfax says, “We are treating a lot of rotator cuff problems that are actually rotator cup tears. We are treating epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, and we are treating hip arthritis, ankle achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains.”
“Anyplace that there’s a ligament or tendon injury is amenable to this,” adds Dr. Friedlis.
Physical fitness is a passion for 76 year old Norman Nicholson of Silver Spring. These days, he exercises for at least an hour everyday.
Nicholson says, “I figure skate, I ski, in the summer I bike, I hike.”
His fitness regimen is “Superman-like” for someone his age. But a few years ago, he stumbled upon his own version of kryptonite.
Nicholson says, “It was in 2010 when I started having problems with the knee.”
Due to the knee, he couldn’t do most exercises like he used to. After orthoscopic surgery and physical therapy he was still unable to do many of the things he wanted to. Nicholson saw Dr. Mayo Friedlis after learning about the Regenexx therapy.
Dr. Friedlis says, “Sometimes when we’re injured or when the body goes through a state of degeneration, we start developing arthritis or wear and tear as we age. The stem cells aren’t as plentiful.”
The hip bone marrow is full of plentiful, healthy stem cells. So the stem cells are extracted from the hip, so they can be applied to the injured area, where healthy stem cells are not as plentiful.
Before the stem cells are inserted into the injured section of the body, they are mixed into rich blood platelets. The red and white blood cells are separated from these platelets.
Dr. Friedlis says, “It turns out these red cells and white cells actually inhibit the platelets from doing thier thing.”
Once the platelets and stem cells are mixed and carefully injected into the body, amazing things can happen.
Dr. Friedlis says, “Those bone marrow cells will turn into cartilage cells, into ligament cells, tendon cells, wherever the are of injury is the stem cells are smart enough to figure out what they have to create.”
In Norman Nicholson’s case, he got some much needed cartilage. His knee has regenerated and it feels like he’s many years younger.
Nicholson says, “Last fall we did the stem cell treatments, and this February I was up in upstate New York. And for 4 days in a row I’ve spent an hour, hour and a half cross country skiing with no trouble at all… so i’m sold.”
This experimental procedure is not covered by insurance but it is covered by some flex spending plans.
All of the Regenexx procedures performed in the US are same-day procedures that comply with “CFR21 part1271“, requiring stem cells to be used on the same day that they are extracted.
Costs for this treatment can run between $4,000 to $6,000 depending on the patient. Some patients may benefit from cheaper, older PRP therapies that start around $1,200.
Here is the complete list of conditions this therapy treats:
Link to the original WUSA9 article: http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/264081/158/New-Stem-Cell-Procedure-Brings-Youth-Back-To-Achy-Joints
Jim Bradley understands the season-on-the-brink desperation that, according to Fox Sports, sent Peyton Manning and his ailing neck to Europe this summer, seeking the experimental promise of stem cells. For the past two decades as the Steelers orthopedist, Bradley has listened to injured athletes beg him to be creative in getting them back onto the field. “In the last year, I’ve seen half a dozen guys go to South Korea, Japan, Germany, even Russia for stem cell procedures,” says Bradley, a past president of the NFL Physician’s Society. “And there’s going to be plenty more.”
By LIZ NEPORENT, ABC Medical Unit
Last year, Patricia Beals was told she’d need a double knee replacement to repair her severely arthritic knees or she’d probably spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
Hoping to avoid surgery, Beals, 72, opted instead for an experimental treatment that involved harvesting bone marrow stem cells from her hip, concentrating the cells in a centrifuge and injecting them back into her damaged joints.
“Almost from the moment I got up from the table, I was able to throw away my cane,” Beals says. “Now I’m biking and hiking like a 30-year-old.”
A handful of doctors around the country are administering treatments like the one Beals received to stop or even reverse the ravages of osteoarthritis. Stem cells are the only cells in the body able to morph into other types of specialized cells. When the patient’s own stem cells are injected into a damaged joint, they appear to transform into chondrocytes, the cells that go on to produce fresh cartilage. They also seem to amplify the body’s own natural repair efforts by accelerating healing, reducing inflammation, and preventing scarring and loss of function.
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D., the rehab medicine specialist who performed Beals’ procedure, says the results he sees from stem cell therapy are remarkable. Of the more-than-200 patients his Bloomfield, Colo., clinic treated over a two-year period, he says, “two thirds of them reported greater than 50 percent relief and about 40 percent reported more than 75 percent relief one to two years afterward.”
According to Centeno, knees respond better to the treatment than hips. Only eight percent of his knee patients opted for a total knee replacement two years after receiving a stem cell injection. The complete results from his clinical observations will be published in a major orthopedic journal later this year.
The Pros and Cons
The biggest advantage stem cell injections seem to offer over more invasive arthritis remedies is a quicker, easier recovery. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and the majority of patients are up and moving within 24 hours. Most wear a brace for several weeks but still can get around. Many are even able to do some gentle stationary cycling by the end of the first week.
There are also fewer complications. A friend who had knee replacement surgery the same day Beals had her treatment developed life-threatening blood clots and couldn’t walk for weeks afterwards. Six months out, she still hasn’t made a full recovery.
Most surgeries don’t go so awry, but still: Beals just returned from a week-long cycling trip where she covered 20 to 40 miles per day without so much as a tweak of pain.
As for risks, Centeno maintains they are virtually nonexistent.
“Because the stem cells come from your own body, there’s little chance of infection or rejection,” he says. Not all medical experts are quite so enthusiastic, however. Dr. Tom Einhorn, chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at Boston University, conducts research with stem cells but does not use them to treat arthritic patients. He thinks the idea is interesting but the science is not there yet.
“We need to have animal studies and analyze what’s really happening under the microscope. Then, and only then, can you start doing this with patients,” he says.
The few studies completed to date have examined how stem cells heal traumatic injuries rather than degenerative conditions such as arthritis. Results have been promising but, as Einhorn points out, the required repair mechanisms in each circumstance are very different.
Another downside is cost: The injections aren’t approved by the FDA, which means they aren’t covered by insurance. At $4,000 a pop — all out of pocket — they certainly aren’t cheap, and many patients require more than one shot.
Ironically, one thing driving up the price is FDA involvement. Two years ago, the agency stepped in and stopped physicians from intensifying stem cells in the lab for several days before putting them back into the patient. This means all procedures must be done on the same day, no stem cells may be preserved and many of the more expensive aspects of the treatment must be repeated each time.
Centeno says same day treatments often aren’t as effective, either.
But despite the sky-high price tag and lack of evidence, patients like Beals believe the treatment is nothing short of a miracle. She advises anyone who is a candidate for joint replacement to consider stem cells first.
“Open your mind up and step into it,” she says. “Do it. It’s so effective. It’s the future and it works.”