All About Stem Cell Injections
Even though stem cell injections are regarded as unorthodox in some circles, they are becoming an increasingly popular form of regenerative medicine used to treat various sports injuries. The injections introduce stem cells from your own body into the affected or injured area. Stem cell injections are available at Sports Med London. Find out more about them below.
Injuries Treated With Stem Cell Injections
Stem cell injections can be used to treat various common sports injuries such as damaged cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. A few specific conditions that have responded well to injections include:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
- Runner’s knee
- Shin splints
- Sprains and strains
- Tennis elbow
Injections can be used to treat chronic conditions and one-time traumas.
A Closer Look At Stem Cells
Stem cells are like ingredients or building blocks that can become different types of cells, thereby forming blood, bone, brain, heart, muscle, and other cells. The ability to become other types of cells and to reproduce themselves distinguishing stem cells from other cells in the body.
It’s also thanks to those properties that stem cells can be used to treat sports injuries. For example, stem cells might be injected into a damaged tendon, and those cells will then become tendon cells that will contribute to replacing the affected tissue. The injections can help reduce inflammation, support faster healing and recovery, and promote the regeneration of tendon, ligament, bone, and other tissue.
Where Do Stem Cells Come From?
The cells used in your stem cell injections will be taken from your own body, which means there’s no chance of your body reacting negatively as it might do if a foreign substance was used. The stem cells may be gathered from your blood, bone marrow, or fat.
Peripheral blood stem cells are harvested from blood samples, and bone marrow is harvested from the pelvic bone using a syringe fitted with a needle. If the cells are to come from bone marrow, you will receive a local anaesthetic before the procedure. Adipose stem cells are harvested during liposuction or surgery. All of these stem cells are mesenchymal stem cells or adult stem cells, and you can find out more about them below.
Stem Cell Injection After-Care
For the best results, reduce the amount of activity you do for a couple of weeks after receiving stem cell injections. You may experience discomfort, pain, or muscle spasms in the injected area during the first week. Use ice to manage inflammation and sharp, burning, localised pain, and heat to manage grabbing pains and deep aches. Keep reading for more helpful information about stem cell injections at Sports Med London.
What are Mesenchymal Stem /Stromal Cells (MSC)?
Mesenchymal cells (or Mesenchymal Stromal Cells) are derivatives of Stem Cells which exist in humans and have the potential to differentiate into a range of tissue forming cells to “manufacture” muscle, tendon, ligament and bone tissue (amongst other tissues, even nerve cells).
What are Progenitor Cells?
These are mature subsets of Stem Cells (including Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells) which have more restricted potential for regenerating more specific tissues, such as bone, cartilage or connective tissue.
How do Mesenchymal Stem / Stromal Cells Work?
MSCs can become different kinds of tissue cells such as bone or cartilage. Stem cells can also work by secreting a variety of chemicals such as growth factors and cytokines.
In theory they work directly at the site they are injected, although this remains unproven. The concentration of stem cells then works directly at the site of injury or degenerative tissue where they are re-injected to help the area heal itself.
Where are Mesenchymal Stem Cells found?
MSCs are found in higher concentrations Bone Marrow, Adipose (fat) tissue as well as in amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord (Wharton’s Jelly).
Adipose tissue contains many times (1000s) more regenerative cells than bone marrow (whose effectiveness has been established for a long time), they also release numerous signal substances that are thought to play an important role in controlling and accelerating tissue repair and regeneration.
What conditions can Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cell therapy benefit?
The use of MSCs is unproven and remains experimental. In theory it can be effective in a range of musculoskeletal conditions to help the body heal itself, by repair and regeneration of localised tissue. This may include treatment of “wear and tear” or post trauma osteo-arthritis in any joint. It may in theory also be effective in damaged or degenerate soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments. This currently remains unproven and has not been licensed for use by NICE.