We Invented Orthopedic Stem Cell Injections: An 8-Year Hip Follow-up

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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hip stem cell injection

We invented orthopedic stem cell injections for arthritis. That’s a true statement, as while there were one or two physicians using bone marrow concentrate as part of specific surgeries before we began using stem cells, there was nobody injecting stem cells to treat arthritis. I was reminded of that this week when a patient who is 8 years out from her hip arthritis stem cell injection pinged us via Facebook. Think of that for a second, and let it swirl around your head. A woman who could barely walk across our parking lot and who was on track for a hip replacement never got that invasive surgery because of a single, precise, guided injection of her own bone marrow stem cells processed per our unique protocol 8 years ago!

Birthdays and Remembering the Past

As I write this, today is my birthday. I’m old enough at 54 that I’ve started to forget about them, so when my daughter asked if I was excited about my birthday on Wednesday, I had to think for a second about what she was asking. It’s also important because when I injected my first patient with stem cells I was a mere 42!

Since I’ve been at this a long time, I get pinged every now and then by old patients. This week a patient pinged us with this on Facebook:

“Deborah Hannam-Stensvaag I had my hip done 8 years ago by Dr Schultz and Dr Centeno at their Denver clinic. 
No metal body parts for me if I can help it!!!

Deborah Hannam-Stensvaag Maristine Laws I feel GREAT! Everyone’s outcome is different depending on age and overall health. I just received my 8 year follow up survey and would do it again rather than have surgery. I could hardly walk across the parking lot to their clinic. Now I’m fine. I’m very active too!”

I remember Deb as she was my patient in July of 2009. At that point, it was hard for her to straighten her leg, and there was a crunching sensation in the front of her right thigh. The MRIs showed moderate hip arthritis on one side and mild on the other, with labral tears. She also had issues in her SI joint, which is common for patients who have hip arthritis. One month later, once we had gotten updated MRIs, we performed a Regenexx-SD same-day stem cell injection procedure, injecting precisely into the joint and labrum using fluoroscopy and ultrasound guidance.

Inventing Stem Cell Injection Procedures

It’s pretty interesting to have patients out there who are 5, 8, 10 or even 12 years out from the procedure when everyone else in this field has just learned about it. When we did these first procedures, there was no one else doing this work to treat arthritis or tendon/ligament injuries, so we were at great risk if something went wrong. In addition, we needed to know this topic at a very deep level because there was no textbook or article to read or “how to” manual. There were no weekend courses to take or even lectures being given at any medical conferences. Literally, everyone out there today doing injection-based stem cell therapy to treat orthopedic injuries or disease learned from someone who learned from someone who learned from someone who learned from or was inspired by us in some way. Basically, all orthopedic stem cell procedures being performed today are the result of one big game of telephone that began here in Broomfield, Colorado. As with any game of telephone, the information can get distorted as it passes from person to person.

The Top 5 Distorted Stem Cell Messages That I See Every Day

  1. Stem cells are magic! They are not. They are a great clinical tool in the right patients and do very little for the wrong patients. Knowing the difference only comes from loads of day-in and day-out experience.
  2. Stem cells will magically go to where the problem lives! Nope. While this may happen in Petri dishes or otherwise healthy and young animals, it simply doesn’t happen in the average patient with orthopedic problems. Either you precisely place them in the right spot or you will see much poorer results.
  3. You can mix traditional injections and stem cell injections. Most of the stuff injected by physicians, including high-dose steroids and common local anesthetics, kill cells dead. Hence, many stem cell procedures provided by doctors who took a weekend course are DOA because they mixed them with some commonly used toxic drug.
  4. A stem cell injection is a generic thing, and everybody who advertises that they perform these procedures injects the same product. Wrong. What you get varies very widely. As an example, I just saw a local orthopedic surgeon advertise a fat graft as a stem cell injection. We see chiros advertising dead amniotic tissue as a stem cell injection. There are others who neglect to even concentrate the stem cells in the bone marrow! Hence, what you get that’s called stem cells may not even be living, let alone a stem cell injection.
  5. Experience doesn’t matter because all doctors know how to perform these procedures. Nope. In fact, no physician on earth (save for our fellows and maybe a few lucky physicians around the world in select programs) gets training in these procedures. Most physicians get training from weekend courses that are woefully inadequate. As an example, right now, to do these procedures correctly, the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation has a several-hundred-hour series of courses that focus on precise stem cell injections all over the body. Most physicians instead settle for 8–12 hours of training over a weekend and begin sticking patients come Monday morning.

Do you want to see what a real, precisely guided stem cell injection procedure in the hip looks like? Check out Dr. Bashir performing one in our Colorado office:

The upshot? At the end of the day, we’re proud to have pioneered this field and to have patients who are out 8–12 years from their stem cell procedure. In addition, we’ve learned lots of stuff in the past decade. Much of what we’ve learned has been distilled into the only comprehensive regenerative medicine training out there through the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation. However, that can’t be taught in a weekend. The rest of what we’ve learned is taught to our Regenexx affiliates around the country and all over the world. So if you’re a patient, be careful out there! What’s being called a stem cell injection is not what this patient received 8 years ago!

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18 thoughts on “We Invented Orthopedic Stem Cell Injections: An 8-Year Hip Follow-up

  1. Joe Plumeri

    Can you help my bone on bone shoulder arthritis. I am a 64 year old athlete. xrays revealed no cartalige. Payment plans ?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Joe,
      We treat shoulder arthritis regularly. If you’d like to see if you’d be a good Candidate for a Regenexx procedure, please submit the Candidate form. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/can-treat-severe-shoulder-arthritis-injection/

  2. Barbara

    Can this be done for knees? I am not a candidate for knee replacement, have plenty of “space” but am in daily pain. Cortisone shots help for awhile but one can only get them every six months. Thx..

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Barbara,
      Yes, we definitely treat knees! Please see: https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ While Cortisone shots sometimes help with pain for a short time, they should be avoided as they breakdown cartilage, are lethal to the stem cells in the area and can damage tendons, so they are a net negative. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/steroid-shots-for-knee-arthritis/

  3. Mahesh Kumar

    I need more information and possible treatment by stem cell injection treatment for osteoarthritis affected in knee joint pain. How much time it take for treatment, post treatments complications, total recovery time and success rate in India.
    I am suffering from knee joints pain in both legs since last five years and taking all precautions, care, medicines, exercises as recommended by orthopedic physician and managing the pain through pain killer medicines.
    Please advise the possible treatment other than total knee replacements surgery.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Mahesh,
      Yes, we treat knee osteoarthritis in all Regenexx locations, including India. We have a Regenexx location in Hyderabad and Mumbai.Please see: http://regenorthosport.in/ and https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ On that page you will see a place to put your name and email address to get additional information about Regenexx treatment for knee Osteoarthritis and a representative will be assigned to answer your questions.

  4. Juliana

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. CENTENO!!!!!!!!!! I pray that God allows you another 54 years, you have earned some major brownie points with Him for helping so many of us, so I feel certain that He will. Keep up the Great work Doc!!! HAPPY 54th!!!!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Thank you Juliana!

  5. Jason R

    Would this procedure help repair a torn meniscus that was previously surgically repaired as a complex tear and cauterized?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Jason,
      Many of our knee patients have had prior meniscus surgeries. The meniscus is very rarely repaired; what is actually done is the torn pieces are removed, which because of the function of the meniscus leaves the knee unstable and the cartilage unprotected, both of which lead to arthritis. If you’d like to see if you’d be a Candidate for a Regenexx knee procedure, please submit the Candidate form: https://regenexx.com/blog/should-i-get-meniscus-surgery/

  6. Michael

    I sprained my left si joint about 30 years ago . It has been unstable since and has become arthritic . I am 65 now . Do you think that you could help me? I did have a mri done Oct. 2017 which I could send you a copy of if you think it would help. I have been reading your blog weekly for over a year and have been taking your products also . I would like to get off the pain meds and try stem cell treatment ,but I’m afraid it may be to late because it has been unstable for so long.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Michael,
      We treat Si joints regularly with either prolotherapy, prp, or stem cells, depending on severity. We can take a look at the MRI and the other information we would need to see if you would be a Candidate through the Candidacy process. To do that, please submit the Candidate form to the right of the Blog.

  7. Suzette

    Dear Sirs:
    I am a 63 year old female in good health. Two years ago my left leg started hurting from a specific point in my buttock radiating down my outer thigh, around my knee and down my outer calf. The neurologist said I had Disc protrusion at L5/S1. He suggested I get MRI on my hip. The hip doctor said I am looking at a hip replacement. My knee is also hurting at the bottom of the knee, from the outer to inner side. My lower back is stiff especially in the morning. What is strange is that my leg hurts when I am laying down.

    Is this a pattern you have seen before and is this something you have treated? Also, do you accept insurance?

    What images (x-ray, MEI) can I provide you to access my problem for treatment?

    I do not remember any specific injury; I suspect this is arthritis related. I have not had cortisone injections.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Suzette,
      Yes, we see patients who have gotten their hip replaced only to find out their hip pain was coming from their low back, so it’s important to sort out the back before decisions are made. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/hip-replacement-back-pain/ Backs also are causative in many knee issues:https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-outcomes-back-pain/ MRI and Xray images can be uploaded for us to read through the Candidacy process. To do that, please submit the Are You a Candidate form Here: http://www.regenexx.com

  8. Matt Simpson

    Hi, I was diagnosed 6 years ago with severe osteoarthritis in my hip and have lived with increasing pain and limitation since then. Prior to that I was an active marathoner with a PR of 2:29. My orthopedist (David Domb, hinsdale il) says that a hip replacement/resurfacing is the only option. I am curious to know if your regenerative treatment would be an effective alternative and if you have a center in the Chicago area. Many thanks.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Matt,
      We do have a Regenexx location in the Chicago area. If you have had severe Hip OA which has escalated for 6 years from the point of diagnosis, it would be highly unlikely that you would be a Candidate for the same day stem cell procedure. If you would like to see if you would be a Candidate for the culture expanded procedure done in Grand Cayman, let us know. When considering hip replacement, it’s important to have your back checked out first, as a low back issue, even an asymptomatic one, can affect hip replacement outcomes. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/hip-replacement-back-pain/

  9. Mark Schmitt

    I had right hip resurfacing procedure performed in 2006 with great outcome. I was told at the time that I had OA bilaterally and would eventually need the left side done. That day is here as I have almost constant left hip pain, even at night. I would like to avoid another surgery if possible. Also, just attended an Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Regeneration seminar and they touted their procedure as far superior to bone marrow or adipose tissue stem cell therapy. It seems that using one’s own stem cells for direct injection make more sense. Please comment and also advise if you have a treatment center in the Los Angeles or San Francisco areas of California as I live half way between the two. Can you elaborate on the advantages of the culture expanded procedure?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Mark,
      The advantage of the culture expanded stem cells is number, which can be important in Hip arthritis. We’d need more information to see if you would be a Candidate, and what procedure would be needed in your case. To do that, please submit the Candidate form, or let us know and we can help with that. We’ve not found live stem cells in any of the Amniotic products we’ve tested. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/patient-saved-amniotic-scam/ We have several Regenexx locations in the area. Please see: https://www.healthlinkcenter.com/?utm_source=regenexxreferral&utm_medium=webreferral&utm_campaign=regenexxlocations

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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