Stem Cells

Stem Cell Injection

MJRI offers an experimental technique involving injections of stem cells. Stem cells are unique in that they can develop into any cell—for example, cells that help repair damaged tissue. When injected into an arthritic knee, stem cells may encourage the damaged cartilage to regrow and heal. Injections of stem cells can also reduce inflammation.

The exact way stem cells work is still being researched, but some people find that an injection of stem cells relieves pain and swelling and may help speed recovery.

Our doctors use a syringe to obtain these stem cells from your body, typically from bone marrow in your pelvic bone. The area is thoroughly numbed before the stem cells are extracted, but the procedure may cause mild discomfort. After the stem cells are separated from blood and other substances in the bone marrow, they are injected directly into the knee.

Stem cell therapy does not produce results right away. Over time, their regenerative effect may help damaged tissues to heal. Most people experience improved function and relief from pain after two to six weeks.

What to Expect After Stem Cell Injections

Doctors recommend avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen for four to six weeks after a therapeutic injection with stem cells or platelet-rich plasma while the injury heals. This is because injections of biological material stimulate the body’s inflammatory response, an important part of healing. If the injection site is sore or swollen days after treatment, doctors recommend taking over-the-counter acetaminophen and applying an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time, three times a day.

You should also avoid strenuous activities, such as using the knee for four weeks after injection to give the injured tissue time to heal. Your doctor may provide a boot to immobile your foot and leg. All weight should be kept off the knee for two days, and your doctor can provide you with crutches to help you move around without putting weight on the joint. The boot should be worn for two to three weeks.

Your doctor schedules a follow-up appointment to evaluate the healing process after three or four weeks. Depending on the extent of the injury, your doctor may recommend an additional platelet-rich plasma or stem cell injection.

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