Stem Cell Therapy vs. Shoulder Surgery: What You Need to Know

Scott Brandt, M.D. Stem Cell Therapy, Stem Cells for Joint & Soft Tissue Pain, Stem Cells for Shoulder

The human shoulder consists of three bones (the clavicle, scapula and humerus) and many tendons, ligaments and muscles that link together with a series of four joints. Injury, disease and normal wear and tear issues can affect any part of the shoulder and typically present as fractures in bones, tears in tendons and/or arthritis and instability. Indeed, the shoulder is especially prone to all types of problems because it is constantly being used, moving our arms in a wide range of motion so that we are able to push, pull, lift and throw. The pain resulting from any shoulder condition is usually swift and intense, with only lower back pain surpassing it as the world population’s most prevalent musculoskeletal discomfort. An estimated 7.5 million people see a doctor each year for shoulder pain, and if you’re one of them, you know just how uncomfortable and debilitating it can be. 

Barring any traumatic source for shoulder pain, physicians historically recommended their patients rest to facilitate recovery, applying ice and/or compression as needed to reduce swelling and ease pain. Over-the-counter medication was often prescribed, as well, and once it and rest had improved a patient’s overall condition, he or she would be told to begin conditioning exercises in order to strengthen surrounding muscles, enhance range of motion, prevent further injury and minimize any lingering pain. If none of this was sufficient, invasive surgery was the only other option. It could be a lengthy and expensive path to improvement. Today, however, there is another option: treatment using stem cells. Stem cells have been shown to be particularly effective when used to treat partial tears of the shoulder’s rotator cuff, the part of the shoulder that keeps the top part of the humerus bone within the shoulder socket. Here’s what you need to know about stem cell therapy for shoulder vs. shoulder surgery:

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Stem Cell Therapy is Less Invasive

Stem cell therapy for shoulder pain involves the harvesting of stem cells from a patient’s own body. These cells are mixed with other biologics and injected back into the patient’s shoulder in order to help the damaged tissue repair itself. The entire procedure is performed in our office (rather than a hospital), taking as little as three hours from start to finish. Patients typically leave our building unassisted to recuperate at home for only one or two days. Afterwards, they usually feel up to returning to work or other normal activities. Compared to surgery, using stem cell therapy for shoulder issues is significantly less invasive and less painful, requiring just a few needle injections  and IV  sedation (instead of general anesthesia) and no major incisions or overnight hospital stays.

Stem Cell Therapy is Quicker

As mentioned, stem cell therapy vs. shoulder surgery is much more quick, necessitating less time for the procedure itself, as well as less time for recovery. Downtime is only restricted for the first one or two days following a stem cell injection, and physical therapy is generally not required at all. Initial pain relief usually occurs within 4-12 weeks, with improvement in discomfort and joint functionality continuing for up to a year. 

Stem Cell Therapy is Less Risky

Because stem cell therapy is an injection and not a surgery, the normal risks associated with surgery are negated, including bleeding and blood clots, infection, anesthesia issues, breathing difficulties, scarring and more. There is simply less opportunity for severe complications to occur since the procedure is less invasive and less intense than surgery.

Stem Cell Therapy Can Be Just as (and Oftentimes More) Effective

Of course one of the biggest advantages of stem cell therapy for shoulder vs. shoulder surgery is the potential for actual tissue regeneration to occur. Research shows that stem cells have the capacity to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, reducing inflammation and actually generating new tissue growth. Surgery can repair damage, but it cannot actually aid cell regrowth.

Ready to Learn More?

Shoulder pain can be debilitating, but relief doesn’t have to be an expensive, invasive or lengthy process. To learn more about stem cell therapy for shoulder, please contact our office. We can help you determine if a stem cell treatment could be an option for you.

Next Step

If you believe you or someone you care about could be a candidate for stem cell therapy administered by a trusted clinic, please contact us today.