More Stem Cell TMJ Success Without Surgery

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avoid tmj replacement surgery

I like blogging about what I experience on a day-to-day basis, so this one is about a patient I followed up on this week who had severe TMJ arthritis and was contemplating a joint replacement. She was eating only smoothies, so how did she do and what did we do to help her? Let’s dive in.

What Is TMJ Arthritis?

The TMJ is your jaw joint. It can get arthritis like any other joint, and those issues are frequently associated with upper neck problems. The joint has a meniscus spacer like the knee as well as strong ligaments that hold it in place. When the arthritis is mild, dentists will often inject steroids (which can be harmful in the long run but help in the short run) into the joint or use specialized mouthpieces called splints. When arthritis gets severe, TMJ replacement is often the only option.

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Is TMJ Replacement the Only Solution?

One of the issues we often hear from patients who get or are researching TMJ replacement is that the surgery is hit or miss. In addition, this is a big surgery, with one recent university study showing about a 5% infection rate that required surgical removal of the prosthesis. In addition, another recent research study discussed that TMJ implants can produce similar adverse tissue reactions to hip replacement implants. Yet another study found that about one-third of patients who got a TMJ replacement surgery on one side and had TMJ issues on the other needed to have the other side replaced, likely due to abnormal loading.

We have been treating arthritic TMJs for many years with both platelet-rich plasma as well as stem cells. We produced this video a while back about one patient’s experience with the stem cell procedure on both her TMJ and upper neck:

Kim’s TMJ Journey

Kim is 49 years old with right-sided TMJ and was told that she was “bone on bone” and needed a TMJ replacement. She talked to friends and others who had the surgery, and despite what she was being told by the maxillofacial surgeon, she heard more about bad results than good ones. When I first evaluated her, she was on a liquid diet and was only eating smoothies. This caused her to lose about 10–12 pounds.

Her CT scan of the area from her health plan (Kaiser) showed severe TMJ arthritis. This included big bone spurs plus a change in shape of the mandible part of the joint. Kim had a Regenexx SD TMJ procedure performed, which used her own bone marrow stem cells to treat the joint, surrounding ligaments, and tendons. This is a technically demanding procedure that requires both ultrasound and X-ray guidance using C-arm fluoroscopy.

How did she do? I saw her back this week at five months out from her procedure. She reports that she’s 90% better without surgery, just the precise stem cell injection procedure. She’s switched from smoothies to eating mostly what she wants, including hard food, although she avoids a few things that are hard and chewy. We plan to do one more follow-up platelet-based procedure, and then we’re likely done for now.

The upshot? We have seen great results in helping TMJ patients avoid surgery. Given the invasiveness of TMJ replacement, this can be a great option for patients.

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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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8 thoughts on “More Stem Cell TMJ Success Without Surgery

  1. Colleen Whitney

    I live in ocean isle beach NC looking for someone to help me with knee pain who can I call for stem cell injection can u help me pls.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Colleen,
      Please call 855 622 7838 and our Patient Liaison team can assist in finding the best location for you.

  2. James

    I have TMJ which is effecting my Eustachian Tube. How successful has this process been and what are the costs

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi James,
      Our TMJ treatment has been very successful in the right patients. To see if your particular TMJ issue would be a candidate for this procedure, please submit the candidate form here:, or give us a call at 855 622 7838. Cost depends on what’s needed in each situation.

  3. Nika

    Hello, I have a jaw that has been popping out since my childhood, the jaw joint I was ttold by recent xray that is totally worn out. I started to have constant tinnitus 5 months ago. It is like hell. I was wondering if stem cells would help for this or only surgery? Seems like the jaw as it is jumping it is irritating the nerve there and that is causing me tinnitus.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Nika,
      We’d need more information to answer your question. To do that, please use the Candidate form here:

  4. Thy

    Can you pls tell me which hospital have this treatment?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Thy,
      This treatment is available at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, in Broomfield, CO.

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