Knee Stem Cells? Is This a Thing? George’s Story

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knee stem cells

What’s the deal with knee stem cells and does this procedure work long-term? George is a patient with severe knee arthritis from way back who reached out to report what he experienced after having his own stem cells injected into his knee. Let’s review.

Types of Stem Cell Treatments

There are lots of different types of treatments out there that are called “knee stem cells,” but few involve any actual stem cells. For example, a common one is called an “umbilical cord” stem cell therapy, but this is a scam. Why? Our lab and several others has done this research and shown that the umbilical cord products being used by these clinics contain no actual mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), despite claims to the contrary (1-3). For example, here are the results from a CSU study of 5 umbilical cord products all claiming to contain MSCs:

umbilical cord predictive biotech

Up top, the sterile white circles from the umbilical cord products used by the scam clinics all show no stem cells, which in this test (CFU-f) will show up as purple dots. At the bottom are the bone marrow samples of elderly men and women and note that all of those samples have stem cells (purple dots). Hence, the argument that these scam clinics make that their products contain millions of live and viable stem cells while you’re too old to have many stem cells in your body, is false. In fact, it’s the opposite. Your body has loads of stem cells while the products used by these clinics contain no viable and functional stem cells. Hence, any procedure involving knee stem cells needs to use those found in your body.

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George’s Knee

George was in his 70s when he first saw Dr. Jackson at our Iowa Regenexx clinic.  He had severe “bone on bone” knee arthritis. These are his own words:

“In 2014 I was scheduled to have a partial knee replacement on my right knee. I read an article about stem cells while in Vail. I had Regenexx stem cells followed by PRP on my medial right knee in September 2014. It was followed by PRP…The first set showed bone-on-bone…I have not needed additional PRP or stem cells.”

So how did George fare long-term with his knee stem cells? He reached out to us on Facebook to tell us. Again, in his own words, this is what he can do now:

“I skied the blacks and double diamonds in Breckenridge in February. I had additional PRP at the end of February. I have skied around-300,000 vertical in Colorado every year since until this year when my trip was cut short because of Covid-19. I also road bike over 5,000 miles per year. We try to average 20 mph for 20 plus miles. I have ridden 1,600 miles thus far this year. Most of the miles have been on my smart trainer riding on Zwift because of the weather. I will be 78 in June.”

It should be noted that we also treated George’s low back stenosis in 2018 in Colorado.

The Truth About Knee Replacement?

Many patients considering knee stem cells have been told they need a knee replacement, but what does the research show? The best research to date performed on knee replacement compared that invasive surgery to physical therapy (4). Here are the results:

  • About half of the patients who got knee replacement reported some sort of serious complication
  • About three-quarters of the patients in the physical therapy group decided not to get a knee replacement
  • While the knee replacement group seemed to have better functional improvement than physical therapy using some metrics, in others, there was no difference between the two treatments.
  • The surgeons in the study needed to perform 6 knee replacements before one patient reported that they had at least fifteen percent better function

We also performed a similar randomized trial using bone marrow knee stem cells versus physical therapy, with much better results than were reported by the above study (5).

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Have You Been Told You Need a Knee Replacement?

We have specialist physicians who use knee stem cells instead of joint replacements who can see you via Telemedicine or in-person in their COVID-19 safe clinics. Click below to set up an appointment from the comfort of your own home via Telemedicine using your phone, tablet, or computer:

The upshot? If you’ve been told you need a knee replacement, maybe, like George, you can avoid that huge surgery using knee stem cells instead of amputation of your joint. We have physicians waiting who can see you online, or, in-person to help see if you’re a candidate!



(1) Berger D, Lyons N, Steinmetz, N. In Vitro Evaluation of Injectable, Placental Tissue-Derived Products for Interventional Orthopedics. Interventional Orthopedics Foundation Annual Meeting. Denver, 2015.

(2) Becktell L, Matuska A, Hon S, Delco M, Cole B, Fortier L. Proteomic analysis and cell viability of nine amnion-derived biologics. Orthopedic Research Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2018.

(3) Panero, A, Hirahara, A., Andersen, W, Rothenberg J, Fierro, F. Are Amniotic Fluid Products Stem Cell Therapies? A Study of Amniotic Fluid Preparations for Mesenchymal Stem Cells With Bone Marrow Comparison. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2019 47(5), 1230–1235.

(4) Skou ST, Roos EM, Laursen MB, Rathleff MS, Arendt-Nielsen L, Simonsen O, Rasmussen S. A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Total Knee Replacement. N Engl J Med. 2015 Oct 22;373(17):1597-606. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1505467

(5) Centeno C, Sheinkop M, Dodson E, et al. A specific protocol of autologous bone marrow concentrate and platelet products versus exercise therapy for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial with 2 year follow-up. J Transl Med. 2018;16(1):355. Published 2018 Dec 13. doi:10.1186/s12967-018-1736-8

This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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19 thoughts on “Knee Stem Cells? Is This a Thing? George’s Story

  1. Patty Letawsky

    At age 50 I was told by two orthos I was ready for a total knee replacement. Weight-bearing was very painful, at times unbearable, on my right knee. My gait was so jacked up that my left hip was also becoming very painful. If I had to wait in line somewhere, between my right knee and left hip, I would then have to find a counter or something to lean on with my upper body to give my lower body some relief.
    Nov 2016 I had the stem cell procedure with Dr. Handleman in San Rafael. I was told it would take a bit of time to see the improvement. Mine was greatly improved after the first week. Improvement was about 80% and has maintained at that level the past 3 1/2 years. I’m typing this sitting on my bed “Indian Style,” something I hadn’t done pre-stem cell treatment in YEARS.
    The procedure didn’t tickle, but any pain was very short-term. I took Tylenol post-procedure, and that was it. Nothing like you go through for a total knee replacement. (I watched my mother go through two of them.)
    I’m still thrilled and grateful when I think about where I am now compared to where I was pre-stem cell procedure 3 1/2 years ago.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Great to hear it!

  2. Joe Avila SR

    I will be 80-years old this October and I have bone on bone in both Knees. It has become very painful and difficult to walk. Can your Auburn Washington clinic perform these top Stem Cell procedure’s?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author


  3. Michael Avila

    What is the cost for this treatment for each Knee? Can you treat both knees in each visit?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      It depends on what we need to do, usually as little as 1-2K to as much as 6K. We can treat both knees if enough cells are available.

  4. Larry Starkes

    I had the regenexx procedure done almost 2 yrs ago on my left knee and so far it has been great. My question is should I get another prp injection soon or wait until it starts to feel like it did before I got the stem cells and prp done. I have arthritis which destroyed my right knee which has been replaced.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      I would wait until you just start to get symptoms again and then get the booster PRP shot…

  5. Patricia Trumble

    I had been told for many years that I needed a knee replacement due to arthritis, bone on bone and while I finally decided to schedule the knee replacement, I continued to look for other alternatives and found Regenix and PRP. I read the studies and decided to pursue the PRP. Needless to say I didn’t have the knee replacement. I have been active including being on a team for a triathlon and still work as a nurse on a cardiac floor. Was hoping to schedule another appt for PRP, but due to current restrictions for the Covid -19, I have to wait. My results- I have had improved mobility and range of motion, decrease edema, decrease pain and no steroids or monovisc Injections.
    I have discussed with Dr. Fenton pursuing stem cells, so my question is as follows:
    How are you able to differentiate specific knee stem cells in bone marrow aspiration?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      We isolate out two stem cell fractions in the bone marrow. In the US, we aren’t permitted to select out specific types of mesenchymal stem cells, although we can do that at the licensed Grand Cayman facility.

  6. Richard

    I am 82 years old. I have a bad right knee and have been told that I need a knee replacement. Am I too old for your treatment?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      No, we have not detected an age effect of this treatment. Meaning older patients do as well as younger patients.

  7. Barbara Handa

    Both knees are osteo arthritic
    and very painful.
    I have tried conservative treatments
    but they do not really work.

  8. Valerie Nagy

    So happy about George’s success. My story is similar. My knee stem cell treatment has been a life saver and has also lasted a long time. I highly recommend this procedure to anyone with knee arthritis.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Thanks Valerie for sharing!

  9. Joseph Charles Avila

    MY knee caps are rubbing on the bones. There is no separation or cartilage between them. My doctor took several xrays , can you use them to provide diagnoses?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Usually, although we may need an MRI before treatment, depending on what’s on the x-rays.

  10. John E Scully

    Four years ago, I was wearing a knee brace and using a cane for my left knee. I decided it was time
    to see an orthopedist. After his examination and xrays, I was told I needed a complete left knee
    replacement and a partial right. Told him I’d think about it. That’s when I went online and found out
    about stem cell therapy and Dr. J.E. Fenton and his Regenexx clinic in Winooski, Vt. which was 3
    hours North of my home in Mass. I went to see him. After 4 more trips and an absolutely painless
    procedure with NO side affects, this 81 year old man is still walking pain free. I found Dr. Fenton to
    be compassionate, precise and highly trained. Dr. Centeno, you must be proud to have a man like
    Dr. Fenton as part of your team. I know I couldn’t have been in better hands. God bless you all.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      John, we love Dr. Fenton as well!

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