Should You Treat One or Both Arthritic Knees with Stem Cells?

By Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

knee arthritis stem cell

There’s little published data on the use of a same day stem cell treatment for knee arthritis. What is published on knee arthritis stem cell therapy is focused on small numbers of patients with outcome measures-i.e. did this small number of patients report that they got better or not? I recently found amusing one adipose based stem cell site that claims to be collecting registry data and performing “research”. Yet the data shown looks more like what you would expect from a comment card found in a car dealership. Patient satisfaction with the office staff seems to take precedence over whether the patient reports less pain, better function on standardized questionnaires, or subjective improvement. It’s in that context that I present a new data analysis by our bio statistician. We have amassed a huge clinical registry of information that in many areas like the knee is getting big enough for us to do some really cool stuff.

Patients often come in to see us with knee arthritis on both sides. They always want to know if they can get both knees treated. We’ve often answered this question based on cell yield. Unlike a bedside centrifuge used by 95% of the doctors performing stem cell treatments, we have a lab where we can measure the cell number. This gives us a rough metric to at least provide some counsel on this issue. For example, if the stem cell yield is low, don’t get both knees injected. If it’s high, then do get both knees treated. However, is there a difference in outcome when one knee is treated versus both knees?

For this analysis, we looked at the data available on 525 patients who had only one knee treated and then compared them to 282 patients who had bilateral procedures. Our statistician then adjusted for treatment type, baseline score, follow-up period, age, gender, BMI, and arthritis severity grade. There was a statistically significant difference of about 20% for a better VAS 1-10 pain score when only one knee was treated. Click here for a bigger PDF of this knee stem cell infographic.

What does this mean? The other two scores we measure (LEFS functional scale and Likert % improvement) weren’t statistically different. However, since many patients come to us for pain in their arthritic knee, we should probably take note when the pain relief is lower in one group of patients versus another. Hence, at a 30,000 foot view, it means we will counsel patients to avoid bilateral procedures. Having said that, I can’t say yet whether the cause of the lower pain relief is performing procedures on both sides or whether it’s due to something else. For example, these bilateral patients may have a more severe form of arthritis than patients with problems in only one knee.

The upshot? If you have arthritis in both knees and are trying to figure out whether you should treat one or both knees, don’t despair, the effect we saw was small and in only one metric (i.e. there was no difference in function and reported % improvement between the groups). Having said that, for now, I would counsel patients to avoid bilateral procedures if feasible. In addition, the whole analysis points out how we’re quite different than other practices performing stem cell therapy for arthritis. We’ve been at this for almost a decade and have the largest repository of clinical outcomes information in orthopedic stem cell treatment that grows larger each day. Our goal is to use this information to give our patients rare insight into how they can make the best decisions about their care. There simply isn’t another practitioner of orthopedic stem cell therapy on earth who can say that right now.

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.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.