There are more and more offices claiming to be “regenerative medicine experts”. Many are preying on the desire of individuals to feel better. Be very cautious in vetting your provider. A patient should seek a Physician (MD or DO) that is trained in ultrasound or fluoroscopy (x-ray) guided injections, someone that has completed a fellowship (sub-specialty) training in the field they are practicing (i.e. Sports Medicine), and a provider that stays on top of the most recent research. Unfortunately, there are numerous clinics pushing regenerative medicine primarily for financial gain and not the patient’s best interest.
It is important for patients to be able to filter through the flashy sales pitches and understand whom they are dealing with. It is imperative the provider listens to your questions and answers them as best as they can. They should explain the research or lack of for the chosen procedure. The physician should share likely outcomes and success rates for the regenerative medicine treatment being offered.
It is very important you are discussing the procedure with the physician- not a sales associate or non-MD provider (chiropractic, PA, NP). Be extremely suspicious of sales pitch lunches, guarantees, or absolute statements (i.e. “this will fix your problem 100%”).
Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs or Stem Cells) are the body’s “general contractors”. They are progenitor connective tissue cells that assess an injury and coordinate “subcontractor” cells to assist in repair. MSCs have the potential to become bone cells (osteoblasts), cartilage cells (chondrocytes), fat cells (adipocytes) or muscle cells (myocytes); however, they try to first heal an injured area by recruiting these cells by chemical signals. MSC’s also increase the work capabilities of the cells by releasing growth factors to boost productivity. Viable (living) MSC’s can only be obtained from either a patients own bone marrow or adipose (fat) cells.
Unfortunately, the term stem cell gets thrown around more than it should. There are providers that use umbilical derived products and claim they have living stem cells. We do not use umbilical derived “stem cell” products for two reasons:
1. These products have not demonstrated living cells in independent lab analysis.
2. These products have not gone through a terminal sterilization process.
Even though donors may have been screened for communicable diseases, the risk of disease has not been eradicated.
If a Physician claims they are providing a stem cell treatment, it has to be harvested from the patient. There are other regenerative medicine treatments (Platelet Rich Plasma, Amniotic tissue allografts, etc) that are safe and effective; however, these treatments should not be called stem cells.
These treatments are FDA regulated and reviewed; however, there are specific guidelines that must be followed. To be able to call treatments FDA "approved", the tissues must be “minimally manipulated”- they cannot be altered with chemicals or cultured/grown in a lab. Here at Paragon Sports Medicine, we only use techniques that apply to FDA guidelines.
A thorough discussion with your provider is the first step. Usually, there is more than one option to explore. The injury location, a persons age, health and activity level, all play a role in the decision making process. Once these questions have been answered, your provider will recommend a treatment plan.
There are many factors that affect the cost of the procedure: equipment cost, procedure, time, invasiveness and amount of expertise required. Cost does not equate to efficacy. Some procedures are right for one injury (or patient) but not another. Having an experienced physician to help guide you through these difficult decisions is imperative. Like with all medical procedures, regenerative medicine has variable costs and is related to complexity of the procedure. On average these type of therapies or treatments range between $1000 - $5500.
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