FAQ’s on Stem Cell Injections
What are Stem Cell Injections?
Stem cell injections are among a new line of treatment becoming available to patients that center on using undeveloped cells of the body to heal tissue that has been damaged and that would otherwise be irreplaceable. Stem cell injections are designed to replace tissues such as muscle and cartilage, as the body struggles with naturally producing enough of these cells to adequately treat injury in enough time. In specific types of cells, such as cartilage, the ability to the produce the cells is not even present.
Stem cells are undeveloped cells, and are able to adapt to the cells surrounding them and grow into any cell of the body, including specialty cells such as muscle. They allow for a much quicker recovery process, and in some cases allow for healing of an area that would otherwise be untreatable. Stem cell injections have quickly become one of the best ways to treat an area that would otherwise likely be permanently damaged.
What will Stem Cell Injections treat?
The full range of what a stem cell injection is able to treat is currently unknown, with a large number of theorized treatments still in the clinical stage of testing. In cases where cells have been harvested correctly and safely, it is potentially possible for an injection to treat almost any injury the body has withstood. Since stem cells can be repurposed to any other cell type, the limitations of the cells and thus the treatment currently remain unknown.
How are Stem Cell Injections performed?
There are two primary methods of harvesting stem cells for use in an injection. Each method uses a different type of stem cell, with the first called a self-cell. Self-cells are gathered from a single patient and are usable only in that patient, and are typically harvest from bone marrow. The second primary method of collection of self-cells is to gather them from the fat cells. Fat cell collection provides a lower amount of useful cells, as current collection methods are still being improved for precision.
There is currently one clinically tested treatment injection using self-cells: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy. Used as a treatment for joint complications, PRP has been found to be an effective means of treatment in areas that would otherwise be slow to heal. PRP is becoming one of the most-sought procedures for sports-related joint injuries, and has been accepted as an effective means of treatment by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The second type of stem cell that can be used in an injection is an amniotic stem cell, which comes from the amniotic fluid present during birth. This fluid, typically discarded by a physician post-birth, can be gathered and have useful stem cells harvested from it. Once the stem cells have been acquired, they are put through rigorous testing to ensure there are no lingering genetic complications that could put patients at risk. Amniotic stem cells are placed into an injectable comprised of stem cells, hyaluronic acid (already widely used in tissue regeneration) and a collection of anti-inflammatory agents.
The exact measurable benefit of stem cell injections is currently being found in testing. While there are already a number of stem cell injection treatments in use, there are typically other agents already known to work present alongside stem cells which leaves the direct contribution of stem cells unknown. Theoretically, the capabilities of stem cells in the area of tissue regeneration are enormous based on the types of cells they can become.
What are the risks of Stem Cell Injections?
There is very little risk currently associated with stem cell injections, as stem cells are thoroughly tested and examined for imperfections prior to use in a patient. In cases where self-cells are used, the cells came from the patient and will pose no risk of rejection by the body.