Thursday, September 08, 2016

Remember stem cells--they may fix joints

Orthopaedic surgeon Kevin D. Plancher, MD, founder of Plancher Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, is using stem cells to restore pain-free movement in people with knee or shoulder problems.

This is called regenerative medicine--where you coax the body to heal itself. Stem cell therapy uses immature, self-renewing cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, found in the bone marrow to rejuvenate a wide range of tissues.

Long used by professional athletes, this therapy is edging into the mainstream.

These cells multiply easily and evolve as muscle, bone, fat, tendons, ligaments, or cartilage.

The cells (from donors, not your own body) are kept frozen at minus 80 degrees and warmed briefly, then injected into the knee, shoulder, wrist or elbow.

This is being used to treat knee pain from arthritis, meniscus-tears, ACL ligament injuries, rotator cuff tears, labral tears, and other injuries.

The injected stem cells bathe the injured tissue in a healing slurry.

This amounts to the body healing itself.

I wonder if it's crazy expensive--would insurance cover it?

We could ask.

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