You have decided that stem cell treatments may be worth considering. But you wonder what exactly happens during the procedure.
Before the procedure
In the time leading up the procedure, you will have seen your physician and he or she will have decided stem cell could help you. They will ask you to do a few things prior to the procedure:
- avoid non steroidal medications (like motrin, advil and alleve) for 10 days to two weeks prior to the procedure
- let the staff know if you develop any unusual illness prior to the procedure, virus, cold, UTI etc. (we may need to reschedule)
- scrub your entire body prior to the procedure with an antibacterial soap
- stop blood thinners for 2-4 days prior to the procedure (please discuss with staff ahead of time)
- wear loose clothing
- take an anti-anxiety medication if needed
The Stem Cell Procedure
The Stem Cell procedure is not typically very involved, nor does it take long.
For autologous procedures (using your own cells), we will need to do a couple of things.
First: The area from which we take the stem cells (your hip, in your lower back) will be cleaned. A small amount of local anesthetic will be used to numb the skin, and to numb the surrounding fat and the bone. Once this has made the area numb, a small needle will be inserted through the bone and some cells withdrawn. Some fat cells are taken as well.
Next: The cells taken from bone marrow are processed in a centrifuge and filtering device. This takes a little time to separate the cells we will use.
Finally: whe the cells we will use are ready, the doctor will use an ultrasound machine to visualize the tissues in the area of your pain. The skin will be anesthetized. A small needle will be used to access the tissues, and the different types of cells will be injected in the appropriate areas.
Once this has been done, a bandage is applied.
After the Procedure
After the procedure we will want you to continue to move your joint, and we will want you to walk. You can expect some mild discomfort for a few days, and you will be given medicines to help if needed. In some cases, often with a knee, we may prescribe a brace.
Your blood thinners can be resumed after 48 hours.
How Long Before Pain Relief?
It takes a little while for stem cells to repair injured tissue. We tell patients this may be 90-120 days.
However, we know that stem cells block inflammation and can attach to some pain receptors and this often allows many patients to get pain relief quicker. In some cases we may use Alpha 2 Macroglobulin prior to using stem cell. The A2M may provide pain relief with days.
Stem Cell Procedures are short. No anesthesia is needed except local lidocaine.
There is no:
- being “put to sleep”
- significant risk of general anesthesia
- need for a long recovery period