Severe Shoulder Arthritis Stem Cell Update: I’m Blown Away

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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When I first met John at our licensed Grand Cayman advanced stem cell site, I was amazed that he could still work out. Here was a guy with such severe shoulder arthritis that he had surgeons sharpening their knives, wanting to replace both joints. Despite this, somehow he was trying to work out, but was struggling. Thirteen months later, a video arrived in my e-mail inbox showing him tearing through big weights. I was dumbfounded. So let’s take a look at John’s shoulder’s this morning.

Shoulder Arthritis and Stem Cell Treatment

I’ve always been very impressed with some of the results we’ve seen through the years with shoulder rotator cuff tears and arthritis. Back in 2015, we published on almost 200 patients who we had treated with a same-day bone marrow stem cell procedure for either a rotator cuff tear, shoulder arthritis, or both. The results were very good:

shoulder stem cell research

Since then, we’ve been in the middle of a randomized controlled trial in patients with rotator cuff tears. Compared to physical therapy, the results have also been excellent:

shoulder rotator cuff research RCT

Hence, after treating hundreds of patients with shoulder arthritis, John came to the right place, with the world’s largest experience in stem cell injections used to treat shoulder arthritis. However, there was a real concern about whether this would work, let me explain.

The Story of John’s Shoulders

I first met John in the summer of 2016. I was staffing our licensed, advanced stem cell treatment center in Grand Cayman that month, and John was there for his reinjection of culture-expanded stem cells. When I looked at his MRIs and X-rays, he had end-stage shoulder arthritis from a lifetime of heavy weight lifting. He also had adhesive capsulitis, meaning that his range of motion was very poor because the shoulder capsules had “shrink-wrapped” around the joint due to chronic inflammation. His bone spurs were massive, and he didn’t have much cartilage left. Finally, his rotator cuff tendons were a mess. Given the severity of all of this, I wasn’t overly optimistic we could help, but I was willing to try.

He was flared up that day and had been for the past month. His bone spurs were so epic that a simple capsular distension procedure (injecting advanced platelet lysate into the joint to stretch it out to provide better range of motion) had flared him up. This was because the bone spurs weren’t allowing normal range of motion to take place.

The treatment in Grand Cayman consisted of several injections:

  • High-dose stem cells in both large shoulder and AC joints with fluoroscopic guidance
  • Stem cell-enhanced PRP to inject all of his rotator cuff tendons on both sides with ultrasound guidance
  • The same stem cell/PRP solution to inject his biceps tendons with ultrasound guidance

John’s recovery was slow. I spoke to him at one point about getting his bone spurs removed surgically, but the surgeon had told him that he wouldn’t perform this procedure because he really needed shoulder replacements. Hence, after the first six months or so postinjection, I lost track of him. That was until this week when I got the video you see above.

Where Is John Now?

This past week I got an e-mail from John where he sent the video and wrote, “As far as pain and comfort, I would say I am 80% better. 13 months ago, my quality of life was at zero, having pain turning on the ignition in my car. Now I can do all of the little things like that with no pain, and can sleep better on my side also.
I still have some problems, but am miles farther along than I was a year ago.”

The upshot? I am impressed with John’s ability to lift like this despite his severe shoulder arthritis. Those bone spurs have never been removed, but they don’t seem to be bothering him much. While the effects took a while to kick in (six months at least), the results blew me away. Just goes to show you that our modern orthopedic model, focused on structure and hell-bent on removing bone spurs and joints is likely ridiculously wrong.

The Regenexx-C procedure is not approved by the USFDA and is only offered in countries via license where culture-expanded autologous cells are permitted via local regulations. 

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12 thoughts on “Severe Shoulder Arthritis Stem Cell Update: I’m Blown Away

  1. shalim tatar

    I need to know if there is any information about stem cell information for knee, thank you.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      shalim

      Here is information on stem cell procedures for the knee: https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ Here is where you can get these procedures: https://regenexx.com/find-a-physician/

    2. Mike Sprague

      This is truly Impressive ! I have very bad shoulder issues and my left shoulder was just recommended for replacement . However I will be getting treatments at Regenexx hopefully in 2018 ! Lucky for me I do not have tears in my rotator cuffs . However in looking at John’s training in my opinion he should up his intensity –superset with little or no rest between sets and drop the weights to about 60 -70% of what he is training with now and focus on his movements and form .
      The beauty of Stem Cell research is that it is improving “By the Day ” and the future bodes very well .

      Regenexx keep up the Excellent Work and Keep trying to improve every day !

      Hope to see you guys soon

      Mike Sprague

      1. Regenexx Team Post author

        Looking forward to it Mike!

  2. Lesole Mogorosi

    My knees are painful regularly lately. I now want to do
    Stem cells operation. I stay in South Africa

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Lesole,
      Unfortunately we don’t have A Regenexx provider in South Africa. Here is the list of Regenexx locations: https://regenexx.com/find-a-physician/

  3. David Smith

    I’m looking forward to my appointment with you in January of 2018 regarding my hips and lower back. John’s experience is quite encouraging to me since I’m also quite active in the gym although I do try and listen to my body and limit the amount of weight to my ability to recover. I believe that proper weight lifting technique, as with other exercise, does not cause wear and tear, but actually extends the body’s natural repair/replacement functions to some degree as we age.
    Although I do understand the less optimistic results the data shows on hips for “old guys” such as myself, I was curious as to John’s age and whether that also diminished your expectation for success with his conditions.
    Also, regarding bone spurs, does the regenerative process stimulate the body to also reverse the calcium build up that caused the bone spurs to develop in the first place and actually promote the body to remove them? Do you do follow up MRI’s on joints that have improved results to see the actual physical improvements to the health of the joint from the treatment?

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      John is in his 50s. Shoulder results generally outperform hip results, so not surprised by some results in this patient, but very surprised by how late the results showed up and the extent of his current weight lifting versus the severity of the arthritis. These procedures will not take bone spurs away, but that’s usually not a big deal as most bone spurs in the hip are a net positive, see https://regenexx.com/blog/removing-hip-bone-spurs-hip-impingement-no-better-nothing/

  4. Gary Eyre

    3 questions: 1). How does the success rate of the Regenexx-C compare to that of the Regenexx
    done in the U.S.? (for shoulder and knee)
    2). When do you expect approval of the Regenexx-C in the U.S.?
    3). How much is age a factor in the improvement after the procedure?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Gary,
      1. The Regenexx-C procedure and the Regenexx-SD procedure are used for different things. So for the issues that require Regenexx-C, it works best, and for issues better suited to Regenexx-SD, it works best.
      2. We don’t.
      3. Age is not a factor, with the singular exception of severe hip arthritis.

      Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/does-age-affect-stem-cell-treatment/

  5. V

    I have mild arthritis in my shoulder which I have already have had surgery for. In retrospect I wish I knew about you guys and did not agree to the surgery. With prior surgery for my shoulder, would I still possibly be a candidate for stem cells or prip

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      V,
      We’ve treated many patients who have had prior shoulder surgery. We’d need more information through the Candidacy process. If you’d like to see if your particular case would be a Candidate, please submit the Candidate form to the right of the Blog.

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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