January 7, 2019. Dr. Roger Kasendorf.
There is nothing easy about trying to learn about stem cell therapies. There are multiple varieties in the types of products used and you may hear different information from sources which can sound confusing. There are also different nomenclatures which make the process even more confusing.
Let me start by going back and discussing the development of the current treatments. For decades, the use of prolotherapy was gaining popularity in use. This involved injections of a substance (usually a glucose formulation), which would be placed into a damaged region of tissue. This caustic injection would cause inflammation around the site of the injured region, thus stimulating an immune response for the body to respond. In my office, I explain this with an analogy. Imagine a dark, deep woods, country road in which there is a large pot hole. There is nobody coming to fix this pothole because very few if anyone knows its there. Imagine the glucose injection as a stick of dynamite which explodes, allowing the authorities know that they need to come to this road and fix a problem. A major limitation of this procedure however, is that it often takes dozens of injections on multiple occasions to get to the desired relief necessary and the healing is fairly slow.
About a dozen years ago, I began treatment with platelet rich plasma (often referred to as PRP). In this treatment, blood is taken through a standard blood draw, then spun in a centrifuge. From here, only a small layer containing mostly platelets is extracted, then injected into an injured region. This is a fairly effective technique since activated stem cells are placed directly into damaged tissues, causing an inflammatory response and attracting one’s own body stem cells that are circulating around their blood stream. Going back to my previous analogy of the country road, now imagine that besides placing a stick of dynamite, a bunch of hammers, drills, and other tools are now placed to help assist the fixing of the road.
I’ve provided PRP therapy for many years with fairly good success. However, there are still significant limitations. The process is time consuming (drawing blood, centrifuging, etc.) and the body stillhas to depend on its own stem cells for recovery. Although using one’s own cells sound preferable, it’s important to realize that as you get older, so do the stem cells in your body, which make them much less effective. Lastly, other means of PRP in which stem cells are harvested from bone or from fat are much more painful and not necessarily more effective.
This brings us to stem cell products. Stem cell products come in different forms. Formulations can come from cord blood, warton’s jelly (gelatinous substance within the umbilical), amniotic fluid, and amniotic membrane. Many companies providing stem cell treatment boast using the greatest amount of live cells. However, it is important to note that these places are often using the cord blood. Cord blood often has a large concentration of red blood cells. Red blood cells do not provide healing agents and are at the highest risk of contamination from the donor.
At Stem X, we provide amniotic cell membrane injections which provide the great benefit and have never been shown to have any contaminants. In the analogy previous described, the treatment would be as if you had the army of engineers and builders air lifted to this country road to make it smooth and fix any pot holes.
Roger Kasendorf, DO, is the co-founder of the StemX Group and is a top physiatrist in the La Jolla, CA, area. Dr. Kasendorf provides state-of-the-art pain management, physical medicine and rehabilitation services for superior, effective treatment of a wide array of issues affecting the musculoskeletal system.
For any questions on this or any other topics you’d like to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact us at www.stemxgroup.com.