Want to Shorten Shoulder Labrum Surgery Recovery? Ditch the Surgery for an Injection of Your Own Stem Cells

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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shoulder labrum surgery recovery

Shoulder labrum surgery recovery can be a nightmare. Months spent in a pillow immobilizer and months more of rehab. Is there a way to treat a shoulder labral tear without surgery?

The images above are an example of Interventional Orthopedics, in this case treating a shoulder superior labrum tear through a 25 gauge needle without the need for surgery. You can see the dark radiographic contrast spreading at the tip of the very fine needle being used (dark stuff). Why is this a big deal? First, to treat a shoulder labral tear without surgery required two imaging technologies-both ultrasound (which can image most of the biceps very well in everybody) and fluoroscopy (which is needed to see the last stretch of the biceps tendon as it attaches to the superior labrum). In this case you can see the progression of images as we place the needle into the superior labrum tear and switch to fluoroscopy as the needle can no longer be seen on ultrasound (this structure is too deep and protected by bone for the sound waves that make up an ultrasound image to bounce in and out). So a superior labrum tear can only be injected with high accuracy if you’re one of those rare practices that has expertise in both ultrasound and fluoroscopy. Second, a 25 gauge needle is tiny compared to a surgical arthroscope. I have placed an illustration of the position needed to open the shoulder for a surgical arthroscope below as well as the relative sizes if the smallest shoulder arthroscope commonly used (many surgeons use bigger ones) and a 25 gauge needle. If you look at the pictures above you can see the fine needle coming off from the right side. Using this needle based approach means minimal recovery time, as tissue isn’t harmed by placing the cells. Finally, Interventional Orthopedics focuses on trying to help the tear to repair itself rather than sewing it back together or placing artificial anchors. Again this usually means much quicker recovery time. On the other side of that coin, it also means that bigger retracted tears may still need the traditional surgical approach.

The upshot? We’re in a new age of treating orthopedic injuries where physicians will seek and develop ever less invasive ways to heal injuries rather than using more invasive procedures that remove tissue. In this case, the highly accurate injection of the patient’s own stem cells into the labrum tear.

shoulder labrum tear surgery alternative

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.
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