Stem Cell Therapy
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are like blank slates that can grow to become any type of organ and tissue in the body. After you’re fully grown, your body still has stem cells (adult stem cells), but they’re tissue-specific because they can only generate new cells for the specific tissue or organ in which they’re found.
All stem cells have the unique ability to make copies of themselves. Adult stem cells replicate throughout your life to replace old cells that die or become damaged. For example, the constant renewal of your skin, blood vessels, and the lining of your intestines is only possible due to adult stem cells.
What are the sources of stem cells used to treat injury and disease?
Stem cells used to treat damaged tissues can come from two sources. Your own adult stem cells can be harvested — often from fat cells — which is called an autograft. Stem cells can also come from amniotic fluid or tissues, which are donated by consenting mothers after a cesarean section.
Amniotic fluid is a good source of stem cells. These stem cells are increasingly being used in regenerative medicine because they’re self-renewing, grow rapidly, and have the ability to develop into different types of tissues. Stem cells have been used by researchers to successfully regenerate diverse types of tissues.
Is stem cell therapy safe?
Stem cell therapy is safe because the stem cells don’t carry DNA, so they don’t transmit any disease or illness. In spite of their safety, stem cell donations go through a screening process and must be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration before they’re released for therapeutic use.
What conditions are treated with stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy combines autograft or allograft stem cells with growth factors, hyaluronic acid, collagen, and other healing proteins. When the stem cell mixture is injected into damaged tissues, it stimulates new tissue growth and promotes healing.
Stem cell therapy can help heal chronic musculoskeletal conditions in the elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, feet, and ankles. Health conditions that may be treated with stem cell therapy include:
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries
- Inflammation of soft tissues and joints
- Plantar fasciitis
- Cartilage defects