Stem Cell Seminars: 7 Questions to Separate Real from Hype

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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There’s been an explosion in clinics offering stem cells for orthopedic treatments in the last few years. The most aggressive blanket major metro areas, taking out full-page ads on the front pages of major newspapers, putting on large stem cell seminars that double as high-pressure sales events. As a consumer, especially one making medical decisions that will affect your health, it’s imperative that you know whether or not a stem cell offering at a seminar is legitimate. So how can you separate what’s real from what’s hype?

7 Key Questions to Ask at Stem Cell Seminars

1. What Kind of Stem Cells Do You Use?

Ask this question first because if they tell you they use amniotic or cord-blood stem cells, this is a scam, and there’s no need to stick around for the seminar. Our research and that of third parties shows that amniotic and cord “stem cells” are actually dead tissue products with no live stem cells.

2. What Type of Imaging Guidance Do You Use to Inject the Cells?

If they claim that they don’t use any guidance and that the cells just magically find their way via blind injections to where they’re supposed to go, that’s not a credible orthopedic stem cell therapy. A credible therapy uses guidance, like ultrasound or fluoroscopy, to place the stem cells exactly where they need to be.

3. Who Injects the Cells?

The provider should be an MD or DO provider (i.e., a licensed physician) and not a physician’s assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP). The doctor should be certified by an organization like the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation (IOF) to assure he or she knows how to properly perform these complex and precise injections.

4. At What Facility Will the Cells Be Injected?

A chiropractic office is not an appropriate place for an injection procedure. A clinic that is set up to perform orthopedic injections requires a properly equipped procedure suite containing at a minimum a musculoskeletal ultrasound to assure accurate stem cell placement; full surgical monitoring equipment to measure vital signs; advanced fluoroscopy for live imaging; and oxygen, an automated defibrillator, and a crash cart in case of an emergency (see the video above for an image of a properly equipped procedure suite).

5. Where’s the Published Clinical Research on Your Procedure?

There needs to be many clinical research studies with hundreds of patients each on their exact procedure. Pay close attention to the papers the clinic provides, supposedly supporting their procedure; they will throw papers at you that have nothing to do with the actual procedure they’re performing. I’ve reviewed vendors on this blog in the past that are pushing their products with these research bait-and-switch tactics. If the clinic does not provide published clinical studies showing the use of their exact product on hundreds of real patients, there is no supporting research on what they are offering or they would be providing it.

6. Who Is a Candidate?

If everyone who can pay is a candidate and there is no medical criteria or grading of good, fair, or poor, then that’s not appropriate. Every medical procedure ever devised has a candidacy grading for each patient, and candidacy grading for stem cell injection procedures should be no different. Why? Because knowing candidacy rating will tell patients how likely they are to respond to the procedure and can help them make the right decision.

7. How Many Patients Have Failed to Respond to Your Procedure?

The answer for a real medical procedure, including a stem cell procedure, should be “lots.” If they claim that nobody has ever failed or that it’s very rare that people fail this procedure, that’s not credible. All procedures, including injection procedures, have a failure rate.

The upshot? The answers to these 7 questions when attending stem cell seminars should give you a solid understanding of whether or not the seminar is being put on by a reputable clinic. You may actually find answers to many of these questions by simply searching the clinic’s website and save yourself a trip, but if you find yourself at the seminar, don’t fall for the sales pitch without asking these 7 questions to separate a real therapy from the hype.

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12 thoughts on “Stem Cell Seminars: 7 Questions to Separate Real from Hype

  1. Alan Stroup

    Glad I found you

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Alan,
      So are we!

  2. Traci Bell

    Saved myself a trip simply by reading your 7 questions. Thank you.

  3. Jenni Dudley

    Yes! I’ve seen the ads, felt desperate to pick up the phone but good sense intervened – still wanted to know more if it’s a possible option for me and my mom. Thank you for the information –

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Jenni,
      Your own stem cells would likely be an option. What are the issues?

  4. Rick Williams

    Glad I took the time to read before I commit to any stem cell therapy. Thank you!

  5. Mary Heptig

    Can it do anything for neuropathy?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Mary,
      We treat nerves issues regularly with precise image guided injections of platelet lysate made from the patient’s own blood. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/nerve-regeneration/

  6. Janet

    Does insurance cover any of this?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Janet,
      Stem cell procedures are not covered by insurance yet, with the exception of these plans through which approximately 7 million people have coverage for Regenexx procedures, only. Please see:https://regenexx.com/blog/stem-cell-procedure-insurance-coverage/

  7. elizabeth grady

    I have been diagnosed with severe arthritic deterioration of the lower spine, scoliosis and stenosis. I also have arthritis in my hands, neck, right shoulder, toes and knees. My lower back is very painful. All I take is Naproxen.
    I go for PT and OT. I am 83. Could your product actually help me?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Unfortunately, Naproxen is linked to the production of defective collagen, https://regenexx.com/blog/nsaids-and-stem-cells/, so it tends to make arthritis worse in the long run. Regennexx isn’t a product. Regenexx uses your body’s own healing agents, and based on an extensive exam to diagnose the issues and the causes of the issues, customizes a treatment plan for each patient using our pateneted and proprietary procedures. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/nsaids-and-stem-cells/ Please let us know if you’d like to set up an exam.

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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