This is a question that everyone who is looking at stem cell therapy to avoid knee surgery asks. The answer is, “It depends.”
Stem cell injections are not a panacea that will fix every knee injury regardless of type and severity.
For example, a patient might have loose bodies like cartilage or bone fragments inside their knee joint, which can cause painful inflammation, degeneration of the joint and “catching” of the knee. These loose bodies must be surgically removed. Stem cell injections are not going to make them go away. However, stem cells and other biologics like AlphaGEMS amniotic tissue product can be used to promote faster healing after loose bodies are removed with minimally invasive surgery.
As one can see in the picture to the left, these loose bodies can be quite large.
Treating this kind of condition with stem cells alone might alleviate some of the inflammation temporarily but the since underlying problem hasn’t been addressed, the inflammation will return, the catching isn’t going to stop and the degeneration will continue.
A view inside a patient’s knee makes it easy to see how fragments inside the joint can make it painful and difficult to bend. Constant grinding causes discomfort and gradual degeneration of the knee joint over time.
The bottom line is that injecting stem cells without removing large loose bodies is a waste of stem cells, time and money. One should rely on the expertise of a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with years of experience in regenerative medicine to determine when stem cell injections are the right choice and when when minimally invasive surgery augmented with stem cells and *AlphaGEMS amniotic tissue product is a better option.
*AlphaGEMS is harvested from amniotic tissue donated after normal, healthy births.