Stem Cell Orthopedics:
The Sports Medicine of the Future!
- M. Walter M.D.
The field of Regenerative Orthopedics is extremely useful for sports injuries of all kinds. Almost all of these injuries involve connective tissue structures i.e. ligaments, tendons and joint capsules. Sometimes there is a history of sudden trauma although, in many cases, there may be a repetitive strain “overuse” pattern, where the structure has been weakening over a period of time. Since these connective tissue structures have very little blood flow, healing can often be problematic. If the problem is chronic or fails to heal itself in about 3 to 4 weeks, the fastest and indeed the best way to fix the damage is to target the damaged structure(s) with injections of stem cells, PRP or other regenerative solution.
Some of the more common areas we can treat with stem cell therapy and regenerative injections are the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist and low back, but we can pretty well inject and help the healing in almost any joint in the body, from the bottom of your foot (plantar fasciitis) to the neck and sub-occipital area. With a skilled and experienced doctor our success rate is better than 80% for long-term resolution. If done properly, this therapy is very safe and has very little chance of adverse effect. Patients have almost no downtime and can return to activities of daily living almost immediately. For athletes this is by far the most effective treatment to allow the quickest possible return to the sport they love.
There are several keys to optimize a stem cell therapy. The first key is make the right diagnosis of what specific structure(s) are the root cause of the problem. In many cases there may be multiple structures that are contributing to the pain and loss of function so it is important to identify and prioritize the pain generators. As useful as imaging techniques such as MRI and ultrasound are, it is a mistake to rely on them too heavily. Results can be misleading and only give part of the picture. Not every structural abnormality is a pain generator. Also, they often miss the micro-tears in connective tissue structures that are so often the root cause of the pain.
In order to get a clear picture of the problem and properly identify pain generators it is crucial that patients have a thorough palpation exam of the areas in question from a skilled regenerative orthopedic doctor. Stem Cell Orthopedics is a “hands-on” specialty and a palpation methodology is the only reliable way to properly identify and
prioritize the specific structures that are causing the problem. If direct palpation of a certain structure produces the “jump sign” and reproduces the pain, it is virtually diagnostic that you have identified the root-cause(s) of pain. In medicine it is said that half of solving a problem is correctly diagnosing what’s causing it. Once identified and prioritized accordingly, we can inject stem cells and regenerative solutions with specificity and have an excellent chance of solving the root cause(s) of the issue.
The second key is the typeof regenerative solution we select for a given patient and the particular problem. Stem cells freshly prepared on the spot from your own fat combined with PRP (growth factors from your blood) is the most powerful and safest regenerative solution we have – I call it the Mercedes-Benz of injection solutions. It has about 10 times the regenerative power of PRP alone. Stem cells with your own DNA and genetic code are intelligent and as long as you deliver them to within a dime of the damage, they have an amazing ability to detect tissue disruptions at a cellular level, become the right type of cell and regenerate the damaged tissue.
The two sources of autologous stem cells (from your own body) are your fat and bone marrow. The stem cells from fat are more powerful to rebuild orthopedic structures and it is far easier and more pleasant to collect a little fat with a gentle liposculpting procedure than to do a bone marrow aspiration.
Particularly if there is severe degeneration in a region, I generally prefer to use a stem cell/PRP combo over PRP by itself. One reason is I usually can fix a problem with a single treatment whereas with PRP or other regenerative solutions such as dextrose (Prolotherapy) we may need 3-6 sessions. I like to say that I only have one time to make a first impression; my intention is to try and have the biggest impact and resolve orthopedic problems as quickly and directly as possible.
Third, the right rehab is important to a great outcome. We need to get movement in the affected joint(s) as soon as possible. This helps get more circulation in the area and is necessary for the correct regeneration of tissues. As patients feel stronger they can incrementally add load to the healing areas. If the activity produces pain, they need to back away and allow more healing time. In addition, If the problem involves feet, ankles, knees, hips or low back I want to make sure that patients have optimal orthotics. If a patient’s wheel alignment is not perfect when they walk they will continue to break down the area in question. Once we inject an area, it is important that we try and optimize the biomechanics. Finally, since stem cells are really part of the body’s healing process, I recommend to all my patients to boost their healing power by eating a low inflammation diet and getting plenty of sleep.
Let’s review the pros and cons of the stem cell option¾80-85% success rate, minimally invasive, no downtime, effectiveness in addressing micro tears in the connective tissues, very safe if done correctly. The only real potential downside to a stem cell procedure is you have to pay for it and it may not work.
Your stem cells have an innate intelligence and if applied correctly, can be an immensely powerful healing force. Stem cells are the power that built you in the first place, they certainly have the ability to heal and rebuild a small part of you. Modern medicine is only beginning to understand the full potential of stem cells and in many cases the results may be far superior than what you might get with surgery ¾and far safer! This is the sports medicine of the future!
About Dr. Walter:Mark Walter MD, CM, CCFP has pioneered the field of Regenerative Orthopedics for the last 20 years and is considered one of the top Stem Cell Orthopedic specialists in Florida. Dr. Walter received his M.D. degree from McGill (1980) and completed his residency in Family Practice and Sports Medicine in 1982. He went on to do five years of post-doc fellowship work in Regenerative Orthopedics with the world-renowned Hackett-Hemwall foundation, in association with the University of Wisconsin. During that period Dr. Walter was mentored by and worked with some of the top regenerative orthopedic teachers in the world. Dr. Walter is a leading expert in myofascial pain generators and ligament and tendon regeneration.
For more information, to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Walter (by phone or in-person) or to sign up for a free seminar, please call Stem Cell Orthopedics in Sarasota, FL at (941) 955-4325
or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please visit us at StemCellOrthopedics.com