We invented orthopedic stem cell injections for arthritis. That’s a true statement, as while there were one or two physicians using bone marrow concentrate as part of specific surgeries before we began using stem cells, there was nobody injecting stem cells to treat arthritis. I was reminded of that this week when a patient who is 8 years out from her hip arthritis stem cell injection pinged us via Facebook. Think of that for a second, and let it swirl around your head. A woman who could barely walk across our parking lot and who was on track for a hip replacement never got that invasive surgery because of a single, precise, guided injection of her own bone marrow stem cells processed per our unique protocol 8 years ago!
As I write this, today is my birthday. I’m old enough at 54 that I’ve started to forget about them, so when my daughter asked if I was excited about my birthday on Wednesday, I had to think for a second about what she was asking. It’s also important because when I injected my first patient with stem cells I was a mere 42!
Since I’ve been at this a long time, I get pinged every now and then by old patients. This week a patient pinged us with this on Facebook:
“Deborah Hannam-Stensvaag I had my hip done 8 years ago by Dr Schultz and Dr Centeno at their Denver clinic.
No metal body parts for me if I can help it!!!
Deborah Hannam-Stensvaag Maristine Laws I feel GREAT! Everyone’s outcome is different depending on age and overall health. I just received my 8 year follow up survey and would do it again rather than have surgery. I could hardly walk across the parking lot to their clinic. Now I’m fine. I’m very active too!”
I remember Deb as she was my patient in July of 2009. At that point, it was hard for her to straighten her leg, and there was a crunching sensation in the front of her right thigh. The MRIs showed moderate hip arthritis on one side and mild on the other, with labral tears. She also had issues in her SI joint, which is common for patients who have hip arthritis. One month later, once we had gotten updated MRIs, we performed a Regenexx-SD same-day stem cell injection procedure, injecting precisely into the joint and labrum using fluoroscopy and ultrasound guidance.
It’s pretty interesting to have patients out there who are 5, 8, 10 or even 12 years out from the procedure when everyone else in this field has just learned about it. When we did these first procedures, there was no one else doing this work to treat arthritis or tendon/ligament injuries, so we were at great risk if something went wrong. In addition, we needed to know this topic at a very deep level because there was no textbook or article to read or “how to” manual. There were no weekend courses to take or even lectures being given at any medical conferences. Literally, everyone out there today doing injection-based stem cell therapy to treat orthopedic injuries or disease learned from someone who learned from someone who learned from someone who learned from or was inspired by us in some way. Basically, all orthopedic stem cell procedures being performed today are the result of one big game of telephone that began here in Broomfield, Colorado. As with any game of telephone, the information can get distorted as it passes from person to person.
Do you want to see what a real, precisely guided stem cell injection procedure in the hip looks like? Check out Dr. Bashir performing one in our Colorado office:
The upshot? At the end of the day, we’re proud to have pioneered this field and to have patients who are out 8–12 years from their stem cell procedure. In addition, we’ve learned lots of stuff in the past decade. Much of what we’ve learned has been distilled into the only comprehensive regenerative medicine training out there through the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation. However, that can’t be taught in a weekend. The rest of what we’ve learned is taught to our Regenexx affiliates around the country and all over the world. So if you’re a patient, be careful out there! What’s being called a stem cell injection is not what this patient received 8 years ago!
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.…