All about the fitness and health lifestyle
All about the fitness and health lifestyle

How Stem Cell Treatment Can Help Sports Injuries

Last Updated:
June 16, 2022

Stem Cell Treatment Can Help Sports Injuries

Stem cell treatment is increasing in popularity for sports injuries. However, this treatment is not covered by most insurance, thus patients must be sure about the treatment. Below are more details about how stem cell treatment can help sports injuries.

What Injuries can be Treated with Stem Cells?

Stem cell treatments are helpful for a variety of injuries. This can include tendon, ligament, muscle, and cartilage damage. Both one-time trauma and repetitive injuries can experience relief from the regenerative treatment.

How are Stem Cells Applied?

Firstly, the patient must undergo an ultrasound or medical imaging to locate the injury area accurately. This is crucial to ensure the stem cells are delivered to the injury effectively. Now, there are several different methods used to apply stem cells to an injured area. The common methods are;

  • Direct Application – a surgeon can apply stem cells directly to the torn tendon, ligament, or bone.
  • Sutures – a surgeon can stitch the torn muscle, ligament, or tendon using a thread-like material coated in stem cells.
  • Injection – a physician can inject stem cells directly to the injury or nearby. This is often the most common method as it is quick and direct.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are cells within the body that divide and duplicate themselves. They also have the ability to develop into different types of cells within the body. This means a stem cell does not have a specific bodily function, but instead, can develop into a cell that does. Examples include becoming a cartilage or tendon cell.

Studies show that when these cells are placed in a certain area, they can transform to meet a bodily need. For example, stem cells injected near a damaged Achilles tendon transform into healthy tendon cells. This in turn helps to speed up the recovery process.

Where do Stem Cells Come From?

For stem cell treatment for sports injuries, the cells come from the patient themselves. Physicians harvest the stem cells from the blood, fat, or bone marrow of the patient.

  • Adipose Cells – these are fat cells a physician can collect during surgery or liposuction
  • Peripheral Blood Cells – a physician collects these using a blood sample.
  • Bone Marrow Cells – a physician collects these from the pelvic bone using a needle and syringe. This process requires an anesthetic and sometimes a sedative.

All of the cells above belong to the mesenchymal category of stem cells. These are easily obtainable from the patient's body, thus there is a minimal chance of the body rejecting the cell treatment.

Is it Safe?

The biggest question most people have about stem cell treatment revolves around safety. While studies are still underway, early research shows the treatment is safe. This is especially true when using the patient's own stem cells, without any manipulation. However, be aware that treatment works best in a single sitting and the most common side effects are temporary swelling and pain. There is a slight risk of infection as there is with any injection or suture. The doctor will also give you a range of exercises to aid in recovery.

Ask Your Doctor About the Treatment.

If you have ongoing injuries or a current sports injury, consider discussing stem cell treatment with your doctor. They will be able to refer you to a specialist with experience in the process, and you can ask further questions not covered above.

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