Arthritis and Back Pain Relief
Why We Use Your Own Cells
At Southcoast we are quite unlike clinics who simply purchase a product called “stem cells” and hire a physician to inject that blindly into joints. We believe autologous bone marrow cells have a proven record of safety and clinical data suggests this is the best option for healing. We also use image guidance for all injections. Unfortunately, studies have demonstrated no living cells in many preparations sold as “stem cells”, and there have been patients harmed with some of these preparations. One such story is recounted in the podcast bad batch.
In addition to cellular therapy treatments, at Southcoast we also offer a variety of other options not typically available in South Carolina or Georgia, such as Alpha 2 Macroblogulin. A2M is a remarkable protein that can be isolated from blood and injected into a joint to block inflammation and possibly slow down arthritis progression. Though further studies are needed there are some early encouraging results.
The Efficacy of Cell Therapy Debate
Those who tell you cell therapy cannot work for you may simply be misguided. Studies have shown stem cells can grow cartilage in a lab setting and stem cell treatments can provide pain relief when autologous cells are used by trained providers.
We are aware that some family physicians or surgeons sometimes tell patients to avoid cellular therapy treatments. This may be either out of concern that the patient might seek treatment from the wrong provider or possibly simply a lack of up to date knowledge on current research. Though there is still much work to do in this field, early work suggests that these treatments may allow patients to postpone the need for more drastic surgery.
When Lawrence H. Summers Phd, President of Harvard University, gave the commencement speech in 2004, he described a future in medicine in which cancer, diabetes and Alzheimers would be treated with therapies based on stem cells. “It is an area where great and fortunate universities like Harvard have to take the lead”, he stated.
Years later in 2016 addressing the attendees at that years science and business symposium at Harvard, Dr. Summers stated he had vastly underestimated the potential of stem cells. He commented that ” I did not appreciate what subsequent research has demonstrated that stem cells have the capacity to treat sickle cell anemia, to grow new heart cells and repair aging hearts, to repair tendons and ligaments, to address blood cancers and to address certain forms of blindness which can be cured by stem cells.”
Mark Fishman MD, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University has commented that he believes regenerative medicine will prove to be third big wave of transformative medicine, following the control of infectious disease, and todays use of immunotherapies to fight cancer.
The bottom line is that many researchers believe cellular therapy has the potential to change medicine as we know it.
Improving Chances of Success with Cell Therapy
Cell therapy treatments can work but in order to have the best chance of success, patients need to be sure the provider they choose:
- is experienced in the treatment of joint and spine disease
- evaluates patients through history, exam and imaging prior to deciding if they are a candidate
- uses autologous cells
- has training in current regenerative techniques
- has access to a network of like minded, well-trained physicians with whom they can discuss cases and treatment options
- and commits to patient follow up in a registry