Stem cell therapy has many applications. In the past, it has been used to treat many cancers and diseases of the blood. Plus, stem cell therapy also offers exciting possibilities for the treatment of several painful and/or chronic conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED), degenerative disease, and injuries to the back, soft tissues, and joints. And though using stem cells to treat these types of disorders is a relatively new option for many patients, it is a highly-respected, thoroughly-researched, and safe practice.
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Indeed, countless studies show the potential that stem cells can offer people suffering from many types of aging, injury, and/or disease issues. This doesn’t mean that patients shouldn’t seek to understand all possible outcomes –– including the risks and the limitations of stem cell therapy. In order to ensure that stem cell therapy is right for you and your situation, you need to ask the right questions. To that end, here are three important questions to ask a stem cell expert before you decide whether or not it’s the best 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 stem cell therapy is no different. Look for stem cell clinics with physicians specifically trained in stem cell therapy, who have many years of experience administering stem cell injections themselves.
Where Do You Harvest Stem Cells From?
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 stem 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 flank or lower abdomen and mesenchymal, while bone marrow stem cells are taken from the iliac crest of the patient. Be wary of clinics that use only one source for their stem cells and clinics using amniotic solutions or chord blood. Taking stem cells from multiple good 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 joint and soft tissue renewal and repair.
How Do You Verify Stem Cell Placement and Dose?
In stem cell therapy, it’s essential that doctors know where to get and where to place the stem cells needed for treatment. Doctors 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, which makes 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 two months could lead to ineffective results.
The ThriveMD Difference
These are just three initial questions to ask a stem cell expert before you decide 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.