Mountain Climbing with Bad Knees: Chamonix After Knee Stem Cell Procedures

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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I love getting pics or videos of our patients doing the things they love due to a Regenexx procedure. This is Mike’s story, who just sent this great video of himself mountain climbing in France. That’s because Mike was losing the ability to do things like this and was looking at a knee replacement until he ditched the surgery and went with a Regenexx procedure.

Mountain Climbing with Bad Knees: Mike’s Story

Mike is a successful adventure-sports entrepreneur from Vail, Colorado. When Dr. Hyzy first saw him, he had already gone through bilateral knee arthroscopies and a lateral release. Like many of our patients, he had no specific injury; however, his knees just began aching these past few years.

Climbing stairs, skiing, and hiking made things worse, which is a real issue when your loves are skiing and climbing mountains. Hiking downhill was the worst. So how could this adventure-sports enthusiast go mountain climbing with bad knees?

Despite his previous arthroscopies and a lateral release for a kneecap that wasn’t tracking correctly, he was still in pain. Knee gel injections (SynVisc) didn’t help, and he had also tried a blind, bedside-centrifuge PRP injection, which also didn’t help.

Dr. Hyzy evaluated him at the turn of the year and recognized that his low back was also involved with his knee pain. Mike had irritated nerves and arthritic facet joints that needed to be addressed. His knees also had lost cartilage and had swelling in the bone marrow, inflamed and damaged tendons, and loose ligaments, all of which also needed to be precisely injected.

About six months ago, Dr. Hyzy injected our third-generation platelet lysate epidural (around the irritated nerves) and high-dose PRP into the facet joints of his low back. He also had a high-dose bone marrow stem cell procedure, where all of the above areas were addressed. This required advanced skills, as this meant not only injecting the joint using ultrasound guidance but also the bone lesions using fluoroscopy, and the multitude of tendons and ligaments that were involved.

How did Mike do? Check out the video he sent Dr. Hyzy above where he is no longer mountain climbing with bad knees!

The Post-Game Analysis

The blind PRP injection that he had before he visited us was with a system that barely produces more platelets than whole blood. This is a big issue with many bedside systems as even the best of them were only designed to produce 5–7X platelet-rich plasma (PRP). In our research, many older patients, like Mike, need much higher doses, which is what Dr. Hyzy used (14X) with the bone marrow stem cells. No bedside machine can do this, so all of Mike’s injectables were prepared in our advanced lab facilities.

In addition, moderate knee arthritis, like Mike’s, is less likely to respond to PRP. In fact, most studies only show short-term results on the order of a few months if any response. Finally, we have absolutely no high-quality research that any of the surgeries Mike received can help knee pain or stave off arthritis.

There was also a stark difference between the stem cells isolated from Mike’s bone marrow and what the average physician can produce using a simple bedside machine. Meaning, with the procedure that Mike had, we were able to increase the stem cell content of his bone marrow much higher than bedside systems can because we used a proprietary protocol in a lab. We call this “high-dose” bone marrow concentrate.

To learn more about how Regenexx is very different, see my video below:

The upshot? As I said, I love getting videos and pics of patients doing things they couldn’t do before their Regenexx procedure. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Mike’s video speaks volumes about how he’s doing after his procedure.

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4 thoughts on “Mountain Climbing with Bad Knees: Chamonix After Knee Stem Cell Procedures

  1. Tony Wiertel

    How long will Mike not be in pain? He’s doing well after his stem cell procedure, but how long will it last? What does your research data show on longevity of no pain after this procedure? Is it 5 years, 10 years? I’m in need of a bi-lateral knee replacement. The titanium knees of today last 15-20 years. I’m looking for an alternative to knee replacement surgery. I had a Lipogems procedure in December of 2017. I’m still in pain. I’m having a PRP injection in both knees on Thursday (7/19/18) and based on your article about Mike, this is likely to provide relief for a couple of months at best. I’m looking for a permanent or long term solution not involving knee replacement surgery. I appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      Tony, responders with moderate to severe arthritis usually get 2-7 years of relief. All current prostheses, if you remain active like Mike, will last about 5-10 years. If you’re inactive or minimally active, they last longer. So if you’re “bone on bone”, this is not a permanent fix, but neither is a knee replacement for most active people.

      1. Vixmcki

        Hellooooo…Interrupting here ..So, you’re saying IF you DO get knee replacements, it’s still not a permanent fix, if you’re active??? I’m extremely active, REFUSE two knee replacements, want to try stem cells, but hear negative about that, too–plus the cost! What should “I” consider??? I’m in extreme pain 24/7, but am active (gym etc), what next??? It even interferes with my sleep. My knees hurt so much, even without touching them.
        Thanks, Vicki

        1. Regenexx Team

          Vixmcki,
          Many of our knee patients are knee replacement candidates. In many cases, that type of pain is caused by bone marrow lesions (BML), but we’d need to examine you to see what’s going on in your particular case. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-bone-marrow-lesions-why-bmls-are-the-mri-lesion-nobody-has-ever-mentioned/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/young-knee-replacement-patients-high/ Please let us know if you’d like to see if you would be a Candidate.

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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