Bone Healing Help: Can a Stem Cell Injection Heal a Fracture that Surgery Won’t Touch?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

stem cell fracture healing help

You won’t see the above picture in many places in the world. What does it show? A 15 gauge specialized needle precisely injecting stem cells under fluoroscopic guidance into a horribly fractured and non-healing shoulder bone – in other words bone healing help. Why do this type of procedure? This is a fracture that’s so horribly fragmented that surgery can’t help it heal.

Fractures normally heal, but when they don’t, it can be a mess. When a fracture doesn’t heal, it’s called a non-union or a delayed union. Most commonly, surgery is used to place a bone graft or some biomaterial in the fracture area and electromagnetic bone simulators are used to try and help the bone mend. Sometimes hardware screws and plates can be used to help hold the broken and unhealed bone pieces together. However, when a fracture has many pieces, there are few options, as it’s not productive to place more hardware by volume than there is bone.

The above patient found herself in that unenviable position. After fracturing her shoulder in a fall, she was told that there just too many fragments of her humerus bone to operate on and that despite no healing over many months, that she should wait longer to see if this would heal. There were several different intersecting fracture lines that created 6 or 7 distinct bone pieces. In clear need of bone healing help, she sought out our clinic due to our extensive decade long experience using precise stem cell injections into bone to help fractures heal. The above picture shows a 15 gauge specialized needle and the contrast flowing into the many fracture lines, soon to be followed by her own bone marrow stem cells.

The upshot? We’re thankful to have more stem cell injection fracture healing experience than any other clinic in the U.S. In fact, we’ve published on one fracture non-union stem cell technique we use. For this woman, there are no surgical options. Many patients also find themselves with poor surgical options. It’s very disconcerting as a patient to know that you have bones that are disconnected. Hopefully we’ll be able to help this fracture non-union patient like we’ve been able to help other patients.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

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Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

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Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

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