WIth so much push for stem cell therapy and so many different types of doctors out there offering this as a treatment option, how do you know who to trust when considering these treatments? Answering this question is the focus of the blog this week.
If you were to do a google search for “regenerative medicine” or “stem cell therapy” in you area, you would undoubtedly find a plethora of different offices from orthopedics, to chiropractors, to functional medicine doctors that offer this treatment. It seems that everyone wants to offer this cutting edge therapy; however, not everyone who offers it should be doing so. In fact, some offices that offer regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy services have no business doing so. Many are actually using it as another way of increasing their revenue and over charging their patients to drive their own personal gain. Seems counterintuitive for a healthcare office doesn’t it?
We see and hear patients of these offices complaining, “I tried stem cell therapy and it didn’t work.” Only to find out that it wasn’t done with the proper specialist and it wasn’t actually stem cell therapy. For more on what stem cell therapy is and isn’t, as well as the different types of regenerative, please refer to our last blog from May 1, 2023 titled, “Which Stem Cell Treatment Is The Best For Me?”
So, let’s talk about what to look for and what to be aware of.
There are many chiropractor offices out there offering “stem cell therapy” via a donated source of frozen placental tissue. While this is definitely regenerative medicine there is a lot of conflicting research out there about whether or not the stem cells are actually alive and if they stay alive long enough to do the job once injected into your body.
Furthermore, many of these types of offices lack the expertise and personnel to do these injections the correct way. They often hire a nurse practitioner to give these injections. The problem is, nurse practitioners are not skilled on delivering the medicine directly where it needs to go NOR are they able to inject into the spine. They have not been trained on how to do so. Instead, they give blanket injections into joints (similar to how steroids are injected) or inject into the surrounding muscles and say things like, “The stem cells with naturally migrate to where they need to go.” Unfortunately, people believe this because it came from a “healthcare provider.”
This may seem far fetched, but our physician Dr. Cherukupally, hears these stories regularly in our office. She recently had a patient state that a chiropractic office offered her a spine injection for her herniated disk and joint dysfunction and it did nothing to help her. They gave her an injection into the muscles surrounding the area, charged her a ton of money (more than we do for actual stem cell therapy with an expert) and didn’t inform her that only a specialist trained in spine injections can inject her disk.
The problem with injecting into the muscles and claiming the cells will “migrate” to where they need to go is that stem cells are blank canvas cells. They have no identity. When they are injected into any area of the body, they body will use them by transforming them into whatever tissue type the body deems necessary to have in that area. So, if you inject into muscle, these cells will most likely become more muscle cells, not disk cells or cartilage cells which you may be in need of.
You may be thinking, “Well that was just that office. Not everyone is like that.” And you’re right, but you would be surprised as to how many times it does occur.
The majority of people out there seeking healthcare services don’t do enough research on whom it is they are going to see and if this is the correct provider to help them with their problem. Unfortunately, many healthcare practices take advantage of this.
Here are some key things to know when selecting the proper physician to do your regenerative medicine treatment.
1 - If you are in actual MD (medical doctor) office whom has speciality in the treatment of spine or joints, then you are most likely in the right place. In fact, the only healthcare providers out there who are trained and able to inject into the spine are medical doctors, not chiropractors or nurse practitioners. This blog is not being written to bash these professions in any way — they have their place in healthcare, but that place should not be in regenerative medicine.
2 - The doctor’s office you are selecting should be using some sort of imaging study like an MRI to identify where the problem is prior to your treatment so they know where to inject directly. They should also be using imaging guidance while delivering these injections. That imaging can come from ultrasound or x-ray guidance. This is important because it ensures proper location of the medicine being delivered.
3 - They should also have clear guidelines on how to care for your joint or spine following the injection. If they are recommending taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen or aleve) or using ice for pain and swelling - run away. Icing and using NSAIDs will decrease the effectiveness of the treatment because they reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a necessary process during healing and signals these stem cells to continue to do the work needed in repairing your joint.
4 - Consider the source of the regenerative medicine being offered. We strongly recommend whenever its possible to use your body’s own stem cells via bone marrow or fat. The donated sources come with a ton of FDA regulations and potentially lower outcomes. See the blog written on May 1, 2023 for more information on stem cells and regenerative medicine options.
Our office stands for educating its’ patients. We understand that many people make decisions about their health without knowing what is real, true or integrous. We value always showing the utmost integrity when it comes to our patients and anyone that would do business with us. If we believe we can help and we have the expertise to help, then we will. If we believe this therapy is not the best option for you, we will say that. This is called integrity.
Be aware of offices that make false claims about results when they use a donated source of regenerative medicine therapies.
Always, be sure an MD with training in the spine or joints is doing these treatments for the best outcomes.
Cheers to a happy, healthy lifestyle free of pain and use of medications,
Your Regenerative Medicine Team
PS - be sure to click the “Request Appointment” button on our home page to book your consultation.