This past year we were the first clinic in the world to begin offering a first-of-its-kind direct stem cell treatment for the alar, transverse, and accessory ligaments that make up the craniocervical junction, or CCJ. Given that the only other option that seems to work for these CCJ instability patients is a very, very invasive surgery, we’ve had quite a few patients inquire about getting this therapy. However, given that this is a new and experimental procedure, we want to make sure that all of these patients understand what we require to pull the trigger on this treatment.
The CCJ is the area where the head meets the neck. Your bowling ball of a head is held onto your neck with strong ligaments and muscles. The ligaments can get damaged with direct trauma to the head or upper neck or in a car-crash “whiplash” type injury. These patients often have cracking or popping or even slipping sensations in this area. Almost all of them have some sort of headache, dizziness, brain fog, or other symptoms.We have developed a novel procedure that is the first in the world of its type. This is very different than other procedures being offered that never reach these critical ligaments that are buried deep inside the spine.
The patient is put to sleep using a very unique anesthesia protocol that can help assist the accuracy of the procedure. We use a specialized scope to view the back of the throat and then place a specific type of oral appliance to keep the mouth open and that allows a fluoroscope X-ray beam to pass easily. After this area is thoroughly cleaned, we then use advanced X-ray guidance to place a thin needle through the natural gap between the C1 and C2 vertebrae and into the alar, transverse, and accessory ligaments. After we confirm with X-ray contrast that we’re in the right spot, we then inject our proprietary HD-BMC (a super-concentrated same-day stem cell mix) into the ligaments. To learn more watch the video.
Over the past year plus, we’ve performed about 35 of these procedures with minimal sequelae and good results. This is in a patient population that doesn’t seem to respond to anything else, including multiple traditional injection types, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and alternative treatments. We now perform several each month, so by the end of this year, we should have treated close to 100 patients.
Since there’s no other option for many of these CCJ instability patients other than a very invasive surgical fusion of the area, we’ve had tremendous interest in this new procedure. However, it’s important to note that since this procedure is experimental, we follow a rigorous protocol to decide who is a good candidate. Below is the method behind how we make that decision.
PLEASE NOTE THAT NO OTHER CLINIC OUTSIDE OF THE COLORADO REGENEXX CLINIC IS CURRENTLY AUTHORIZED OR CAPABLE OF PERFORMING THIS CCJ LIGAMENT PROCEDURE.
The upshot? My goal with today’s post is to make sure that patients understand that while we’re very happy that we now have a solution for many patients with CCJ instability, we also consider this new procedure new enough to require a strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. As we get more experience with the risks and benefits of the procedure, and after we have performed hundreds, we will likely feel more comfortable allowing more patients with just suspected CCJ instability to try this approach.
*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.
Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…