If you have tried traditional pain medicine, steroid injections, and hyaluronic acid injections for chronic knee pain, and still have pain, it may be time to consider amniotic fluid and stem cells, aka “regenerative medicine”.
While the current focus of medicine is on treating symptoms, regenerative medicine focuses on replacing the damaged tissue or organs (due to disease, trauma, or congenital issues). It is based on the fact that our bodies have the innate response to heal and defend when damaged. One common regenerative method is stem cell therapy where some stem cells are taken from the bone marrow of the hip using a needle which is then injected into the tissue that needs healing. Stem cells have the ability to divide into any cell needed for healing. The new cells can develop into tissues for muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bone, blood vessels, and skin. Similarly, by flooding an injured area with platelets, the healing process can be accelerated. Platelets help in cellular growth by triggering cell division and tissue regeneration. Stem cells also support the healing process. Platelets and stem cells send out biochemicals that regulate.
This is the future of healing our joints and innumerable other conditions! We remain in the early stages of these treatments and traditional medical trials are ongoing. The FDA has thankfully begun to closely monitor this rapidly expanding field of medicine. Currently there are no FDA approved therapies for the joints utilizing exosomes and/or stem cells.
We have been injecting amniotic fluid and stem cells into the joints for several years at SPR medicine with amazing results. The quality and amount of fluid and cells we can obtain improve dramatically with each year.
Amniotic fluid is rich in natural healing factors that help decrease the inflammation and to a limited extent heal the damage already present. Amniotic fluid is rich in cytokines, healing factors, growth hormones, etc. The amniotic fluid SPR medicine uses is donated during C-sections from healthy screened mothers within the United States. The source of amniotic fluid is extremely important and we are extremely careful to know the source of the fluid we obtain and utilize in our patients!
Amniotic fluid injections are not a permanent fix. They typically last somewhat longer and are typically more effective than traditional steroids (weeks to months). The upside is that they are not adding to the damage already present!
Amniotic fluid is now being covered by several insurance carriers! We can check with your insurance to see if your plan covers the injection.
Stem cells are the ultimate future! Extensive research is currently ongoing and we now know that stem cells are actually repairing damage/cartilage within the joint. There is ongoing research regarding the number of stem cells needed, how to store and maintain the harvested stem cells and how to provide healthy cells to the damaged area/joint. We have had incredible results with ongoing relief utilizing stem cells! Unfortunately insurance does not cover the cost of stem cells.
The duration of pain relief we are seeing is typically much longer than the results with amniotic fluid. We often inject amniotic fluid first to create the “best environment” possible for the stem cells. We inject stem cells approximately two weeks after the amniotic fluid. To date, we are seeing better relief for several months after the injection! Again this is not FDA approved and research is in the early stages with utilizing stem cells for joint repair.