Describing What We Do with Stem Cells and How it’s Different

By Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

This week a patient came in who was a lifelong martial arts expert. His right knee had been hurting for several months and was limiting his ability to do what he loved, so he went to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon didn’t order an MRI, but an x-ray. This is becoming increasingly common in our world of medical cost containment under the ACA. The x-ray showed some narrowing of the inside of the joint, but of course was incapable of looking at structures like the meniscus or cartilage. Based on a cursory exam and the x-ray he was diagnosed with a probable meniscus tear and scheduled for surgery. A friend who knew that the planned knee meniscus surgery was no better than placebo or physical therapy told him to see us.

I want to digress a moment here. If the patient had been sent to any one of the magic stem cell clinics popping up all over the country right now that will treat your wrinkles, knee, erectile dysfunction, MS, ALS, or any other alphabet soup disease you may have, the patient would have gotten an injection of fat stem cells into the joint without much additional work-up. This wouldn’t have included any attempt to inject the cells into specific damaged parts of the joint (like the meniscus) nor would guidance have been used (i.e. a “blind” injection), so the likelihood that the stem cells would end up outside the joint all together would be about 20-40%.

Without an MRI, I was able to see under ultrasound that the front/inside meniscus had a cyst and was torn and the back/inside part was degenerated. Again, to digress, if the surgeon had operated, these tears would have been seen under arthroscopy and the torn bits of the meniscus removed, leaving him with less protection for the joint. Based on the research, the removal of these torn bits of meniscus would likely lead to more arthritis down the road.

I then noticed something odd on his exam as I used ultrasound to see inside the joint as I moved it around. His ACL ligament was slightly loose, certainly not enough for a surgeon to believe that it needed to be replaced, but when I rotated his tibia on his femur and looked at the meniscus, the damaged tissue freely jumped in and out of the joint, traumatizing it with each move. On further exam, his ALL ligament was also lax, likely due to years of rotating his tibia on the femur with each kick. Why was this a critical finding to help this patient? Because it explained why the meniscus tears were there in the first place. In addition, without also performing injections into the ACL and ALL ligaments under highly exacting guidance, this patient would never truly recover, as his “surgerized” meniscus would be further injured with each kick.

We are very different in how we approach these problems, so I wanted to walk you through the process of figuring out what’s wrong with a patient and which specific technologies applied to which specific structures will help. If I had been the surgeon, I would have removed parts of his torn meniscus, being oblivious to the instability in the knee that caused the tears. If I had been a doctor at a “schlocky”, cure all, magic stem cell clinic, I wouldn’t have even gotten that far, I would have just tried to blindly place the magic somewhere in the vicinity of the knee joint and would have never been able to inject the meniscus tears or the ACL or ALL ligament under guidance.

The upshot? We are a network of Interventional Orthopedic clinics that seek to use biologic therapies to help patients avoid surgeries that don’t work. However, the expertise needed to diagnose what’s wrong is what our traditional medical care system lacks and is getting rarer by the day in our ACA mandated world. In this gentleman’s case, the more sophisticated approach will take more time, but we believe that in the end it will make the difference between a successful long-term result and either more arthritis through surgery or a gimmick therapy.

Category: Knee, Latest News

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.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

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.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

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.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

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.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

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.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

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.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email