With the new year upon us, I thought I’d go over 10 of your favorite posts from 2015. First the top 5 by the number of page views and then the top 5 by social media interaction. It’s always interesting to me see what your favorites are, which tells me what readers like.
Writing a blog almost every day is both challenging and fun. Oftentimes, my best inspiration comes from what I see in the clinic. Sometimes it’s something a patient said, or an interesting MRI, or a great success story. Other times it’s some new silly “thing” that has popped up on the Internet in the “Stem Cell Wild West”.
Here are the top five of the most viewed blogs:
1. More Bad News About Shoulder Steroid Shots – This one doesn’t surprise me at all. Steroid shots are so common, yet so bad for you that the dichotomy between perception and reality surprises people. When I tell patients that the steroid shot they just got in their knee, shoulder, or spine may have really harmed their cartilage, tendon, or bones, most of them are flabbergasted. Sometimes it’s like I told them an alien just landed, while other times they kind of knew it was a bad idea. It’s amazing what we doctors will pump into people because it’s covered by insurance!
2. Popping That Motrin Pill Could Kill You – This one also doesn’t surprise me. Like steroid shots, this is something that most people believe is innocuous, but while steroid shots can just screw up your tissue, Motrin can give you a shiny new fatal heart attack!
3. Knee Meniscus Surgery Outcome: Who Needs Knee Meniscus Surgery – I’m glad to see that this post got so much traction, given that most Americans have been taught to believe that a knee meniscus surgery is a rite of passage in middle age. Given that the surgery has been shown to be no better than a placebo surgery, it’s a modern mystery why any insurance company still covers the procedure!
4. What’s the Benefit of Stem Cells for Arthritis if Not Structural Repair? – I’m also glad to see this post had legs. Based on the hype generated in the stem cell field, people often believe that an injection of this magic pixie dust will “retread” their severely arthritic knee with a brand new coat of cartilage. Improvement of cartilage defects can be observed when there are small holes in the cartilage (mild arthritis), but this doesn’t happen in severe arthritis. Isn’t it better for business if people with severe arthritis believe that stem cells will grow them a new knee? I’ll leave that fantasy to the stem cell huckster clinics out there…
5. Did the Mesoblast Degenerative Disc Disease Trial Succeed or Fail? – This post being number 5 does surprise me. It tells me that I’m not the only one with some questions about Mesoblast’s new disc product. To review, this is a company that is getting FDA approval for a stem cell disc injection that initially touted animal studies showing that it could regrow a new disc from a badly degenerated one. However, as we could have told them in 2008, years before they ever conceived of their disc regeneration product, this doesn’t happen in real humans. So what began as a magical product that insurers would knock each other over for, has instead turned into a horribly expensive pain reliever that is likely to get FDA approval, only to find that an insurance company is unlikely to pay for the product!
This next top 5 are based on social media interaction on Facebook
It’s an interesting experiment to contrast what people actually read (above), with what they share and “like”. Here goes:
1. Knee Surgery For Meniscus Tear? Not If You’re Middle Aged – I’m really glad to see that this one was widely shared. I can’t tell you how many people who walk into my office or call have been diagnosed with a “meniscus tear” because an MRI showed a tear that had likely been there for a decade. Given the research showing that meniscus tears in middle age are as common as wrinkles and about as important, it’s awful that surgeons are still diagnosing and surgically treating this phantom.
2. Five Knee Replacement Questions To Ask Before Surgery – It’s gratifying to see that this post made the list. One of the biggest issues we see day in and day out are allergies to knee and hip replacement devices. These patients have few good options and all of it could have been avoided if the surgeon had taken an extra 10 seconds to ask a question about jewelry allergies before signing the patient up for a surgery! Hopefully some patients will now be educated enough to tell their surgeon that they’re not a candidate for this horribly invasive procedure.
3. Stem Cell Cartilage Regeneration: What Everyone With Joint Pain Should Know – This is another version of the post on the prior top 5 list and it’s likely that both made the cut because of the duality between what people believe (stem cells are magic and they cure arthritis) and what our decade of experience using them has taught us (stem cells are a great tool, but they aren’t magic).
4. Can Patients With An ACL Tear Avoid Surgery? – I’m super excited to see that this post made the list. We pioneered the ACL stem cell procedure and invented the advanced injection methods that make it work. So the fact that thousands of people saw this post on social media and hundreds gave it a thumbs up, is personally gratifying. We now believe based on what we have observed on before and after MRIs of ACL tears treated this way, that about 70% of patients who currently get surgery to “fix” a torn ACL can avoid the surgery and heal their own ligament with a precise injection of stem cells using our patented technique.
5. ITB Release Surgery: What Orthopedic Surgeons Won’t Tell You – I’m also personally excited to see this one on the list! Why? This was a great example of how our modern orthopedic surgery system can sometimes completely fail patients by doing the opposite of what bio mechanically makes sense. Here the surgeon destabilized the knee by trying to “release” a tight iliotibial band (ITB) and then made matters worse by operating on and removing pieces of the meniscus over several surgeries. The serial MRIs revealed the resulting rapid degeneration of the cartilage and bone.
The upshot? This has been a great year for Regenexx and hopefully you’ve enjoyed the blog. It’s really fun for me to see what you liked, because it helps me design content for 2016 that will engage and further the conversation about how orthopedics can be improved by ditching the surgeries and using increasingly sophisticated injection approaches with our patented stem cell procedure!
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.…