In addition to treating many cancers and diseases of the blood and aiding in the generation of reparative tissue grafts, stem cell therapy offers exciting possibilities for the treatment of several painful and/or chronic conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and degenerative disease and injuries of the back, soft tissues and joints. And while using stem cells to treat these types of disorders is a relatively new option for many patients, it’s not a treatment that hasn’t undergone a host of experimental research.
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Indeed, countless studies show the potential that stem cells can offer to people suffering from many types of aging, injury and/or disease issues. This doesn’t mean that patients shouldn’t seek to understand all the possible outcomes, the risks and the limitations of stem cell therapy; your health is too important to not do your own investigative analysis. In order to ensure that stem cell therapy has the capacity to treat your own unique condition, you need to ask the right questions. Here are three important questions to ask a stem cell doctor before deciding whether or not it’s the right option for you:
What are Your Credentials?
Of course, you should look for the most experienced doctor when seeking stem cell therapy. Practice usually improves performance and in medicine, it’s no different. Look for stem cell clinics with physicians specifically trained in stem cell therapy, who have many hours of experience administering stem cell injections.
From Which Area of the Body Do You Harvest Stem Cells?
There are many different kinds of stem cells, and specific ones work better for some treatments than others. For orthopedic and ED issues, some of the stems cells with the best potential for regenerative effect reside in adipose (fat) and bone marrow tissues. Using various aspiration techniques, adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells are usually taken from the lower abdomen and mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells are taken from the iliac crest of the patient. Be wary of clinics using only one source for their stem cells! Taking stem cells from multiple sources compounds the benefits of stem cell therapy and serves as the best source for treating orthopedic and ED issues.
In some cases, blood is also harvested through a peripheral vein and used to gather platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which contains platelet-derived growth factors and is useful for stimulating bone renewal and repair.
How Do You Verify Stem Cell Placement and Dose?
In stem cell therapy, it’s paramount that doctors know where to get and where to place the stem cells needed for treatment. They can only guarantee correct placement if they use live x-ray (fluoroscopic) or ultrasound guidance when harvesting from and placing the stem cells into affected areas. Using some form of imaging is the only way to ensure that stem cells (not just blood) are not only extracted, but that they reach their intended target and have a chance to effectuate improvement when reapplied to the body.
In addition, an experienced provider will carefully prepare the stem cell injection before administering it to a patient. This includes verifying the number of live cells in the aspirate, as well as the type(s) of anesthetics and medications used during and after the procedure. Many local anesthetics destroy stem cells on contact, and several medications have the same effect. For instance, steroid shots can reduce inflammation and, therefore, reduce pain, but they also impede the body’s natural immune response, making it harder for mesenchymal stem cells to regenerate as they usually do. Injecting stem cells into an area that has had steroid treatment within the previous three months could lead to ineffective results.
The ThriveMD Difference
These are just three initial questions to ask a stem cell doctor before deciding on the provider and treatment that’s right for you. Some other points to cover include:
- Do you have data to support your treatment plan(s)?
- What kind of benefits could patients expect?
- What does a typical recovery look like?
- How much does stem cell therapy cost?
Of course, picking the exact questions to ask a stem cell doctor will depend on your own unique health needs and the resources you and your doctor possess to address them. Our team here at ThriveMD has extensive clinical experience, and we carefully review all of our patients’ records so that we can address any type of query or concern. Please contact us with your own list of questions to see if stem cell therapy might be a viable option for you or a loved one.