FAQ’s on Stem Cell Injections in Phoenix

Stem cells injections are a new innovative procedure to treat damaged body structures, relieve osteoarthritis, and help with chronic tendonitis. Stem cells contain growth factors that promote healing.

What conditions are treated with stem cell injections?

Stem cell injections can effectively treat:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Chondromalacia patella syndrome
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Meniscus tears
  • Sacroiliac joint pain
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Muscle tears

How is the procedure done?

The physician first extracts stem cells from the bone marrow of patient’s hipbone. The area over the hip is cleansed with an antiseptic solution, and the skin and deeper tissues are numbed. The skin cells are then injected into the patient’s damaged joint or body region using x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy).

What are the benefits of a stem cell injection?

Stem cells injections are mostly used to treat painful joints. These injections provide a non-invasive treatment option for long-lasting pain relief from chronic joint discomfort. Stem cell injections are safe and effective.

What joints can be injected with stem cells?

Stem cell injections are used for moderate osteoarthritis of the:

  • Knee
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Ankle
  • Thumb

Who is a candidate for the stem cell injection procedure?

To find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy, you should visit the pain specialist for a consultation. When the spinal structures or joints are severely damaged, stem cell injections do not help. These injections are best for patients with mild to moderate joint damage. The stem cell injection is used to treat damaged joints and body structures where wear-and-tear has occurred. These treatments cannot be given to:

  • Anyone with a blood-borne cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • Patients with a current infection
  • Patients who use high-dose Coumadin
  • Anyone with a blood-borne disease or malignancy
  • Patients with certain medical conditions (diabetes, hypothyroidism, and low testosterone)

Does insurance cover stem cell injections?

Most insurances do not cover stem cell therapy. The cost of treatment is determined by what type of injection is being done, or if multiple joints are injected. This varies from $2,500 to $5,000. The doctor will discuss your insurance coverage before deciding on your treatment plan.

Where do stem cells come from?

The doctor harvests the stem cells from the posterior iliac crest (back of the hip bone). These are called bone marrow stem cells (BMSC). Stem cells obtained from fat (adipose) tissue are called adipose stem cells (ADSC). It is not uncommon for the doctor to use both types of these for one injection.

Do stem cell injections work?

There is limited data suggesting that stem cells regenerate damaged cartilage, but they do appear to offer pain relief. Improvement is not immediate, and effectiveness is typically seen 3-6 months after the stem cell procedure. In a recent study, the success rate of stem cell injection was reported at 80-90%. Researchers also found that stem cell injection for mild knee arthritis decreased pain scores and improved function. In a 2014 clinical study, patients enjoyed a 70% success rate for treatment of rotator cuff injuries.

What risks are associated with the stem cell injection procedure?

The stem cell injection procedure is a minimally invasive technique, but there are a few risks involved. These include infection, nerve damage, bleeding, and pain at the injection site. There is no risk for allergic reaction because the patient’s own cells are used. However, there is a slight risk of allergy to medical products and medications used during the procedure, including latex, antiseptics, anesthetics, and sedatives.

Resources

Koh et al. (2013). Mesenchymal stem cell injections improve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.  Arthroscopy. 29(4): 748-755.

Pettine KA, Murphy MB, Suzuki RK, et al. (2014). Percutaneous injection of autologous bone marrow concentrate cells significantly reduces lumbar discogenic pain through 12 months. Stem Cells.

Vangsness CT, et al. (2014). Adult human mesenchymal stem cells delivered via intra-articular injection to the knee following partial medial meniscectomy: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 96(2):90-8.