Over the last several years many prominent professional athletes have elected to be treated with Stem Cell Therapy, instead of major surgery for the career threatening injuries they have suffered with. They are hoping to alleviate or minimize post-injury pain and downtime. Except in some rare conditions that require immediate surgery (like a meniscal root tear) Stem Cell Therapy can improve outcomes and reduce costs of treatment, while accelerating the time to return to the field or court.
To a professional athlete, every game missed is money not made and stats unearned. Sportsman are thus increasingly looking to the science of regenerative medicine to get back on the playing field quicker.
To put this in perspective we’ve highlighted some notable names in sport that have or will undergo Knee Stem Cell Therapy. The progress made in treating sports injuries is often an early signal of the beneficial treatments that will shortly emerge for the general populace.
In fact, some of the regenerative knee treatments mentioned below are available right now in the USA, even though they are technically considered experimental.
Peyton Manning, 4-time NFL MVP, traveled to Europe for Stem Cell Treatment after two surgeries on his neck did not help address a painful bulging disk. Physicians harvested his own bone-marrow which was then re-injected back into his neck area.
Bartolo Colon, New York Yankees pitcher underwent Stem Cell Therapy in Florida. Fat and bone marrow cells from his own body was re-injected into the elbow and shoulder joints to help repair ligament damage and a torn rotator cuff.
The Jet’s Chris Johnson, a running back tore the meniscus in his left knee. His own stem cells, the body’s universal building blocks, were transplanted back into the knee joint to speed up the healing process.
Rafael Nadal, one of the greatest tennis players in history, received stem cell treatment on his ailing back in Barcelona using his own fat and bone marrow cells.
Garret Richards, Los Angeles pitcher, underwent Stem Cell Treatment. Stem cells taken from bone marrow in his pelvis were injected back into elbow joint. He had previously undergone surgery for a ruptured patellar tendon during a baseball game.
Racing legend, A.J Foyt, an 82-year-old four-time winner of the Indianapolis 5000 announced he would undergo stem cell therapy to help repair his ankle and shoulder. Foyt said: “Dan Pastorini (the former NFL quarterback) did it and it helped him. Peyton Manning (the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback) did it for his neck and it really helped him. Tony Dorsett (the former Dallas Cowboys running back) did it, so I think I should try it.”
Can regenerative medicine help the man in the street?
Several, but not all of the treatments outlined above, are currently available in Florida for a small spectrum of patients that suffer from joint disease or osteoarthritis. This also includes those who may be experiencing joint pain due to post-operative surgeries or injuries incurred earlier in their lives. This includes meniscus tears in the knee or ball-and-socket joints such as the shoulder.
Same-day FDA/FTC compliant stem cell treatment plans are most notably effective for patients whose condition is not yet bone-on-bone. The National Institute of Health (NIH) aptly describes Regenerative Medicine as “the most recent and emerging branch of medical science, dealing with functional restoration of tissues or organs for the patient suffering from severe injuries or chronic disease.”
The NIH notes that the spectacular progress in the field of stem cell research has laid the foundation for cell based therapies of disease which cannot be cured by conventional medicines (or surgery).
This of course has drawn the attention of several prominent athletes, including those mentioned above. It has always been true that athletes tend to be more progressive in experimenting with the latest medical advances before they are fully absorbed or adopted by the public.
For most of us, as we age, osteoarthritis is a burgeoning concern affecting over 50 million people in the United States, particularly the knee joint. Athletes and non-athletes all rely upon knee cartilage to act as a cushion between the various bones in the joint. It’s a tough, flexible and mostly reliable material that gets damaged by high-impact collisions or repetitive tasks common to many sports and daily activities.
Statistics show that as much as 30 percent of the population will incur some form of knee degeneration by the time they celebrate their 55th birthday, an unwanted ‘present’ that unwraps itself in pain and ultimately knee replacement surgery.
California, one of the most progressive states in the U.S. has shown some leadership in regenerative medicine field recently with news that The California Stem Cell Agency approved close to $33 million for clinical stage research projects testing treatments that include arthritis of the knee.
The agency reports that the goal of the research is to regenerate knee cartilage using a mesenchymal progenitor cell treatment. Funding is aimed at manufacturing the product to ultimately secure Food and Drug Administration approval for a phase one safety trial.
A treatment for the public would likely be years in the future, but options are available immediately in other states like Florida for traditional Prolotherapy, PRP and knee stem cell treatment that involves same-day harvesting of fat cells and bone marrow cells for reinjection back into affected joints such as the knee or elbow.
Some of the athletes referenced above have opted for this technique which is becoming increasingly popular in high-impact sports such as football, basketball and ice hockey. Those athletes that seek more progressive or experimental procedures (currently undergoing clinical trials and awaiting FDA approval) will often fly to Europe or other international destinations to benefit from accelerated healing programs relating to stem cell therapy.
While our clinic at MedicalMasters.org does not advocate miracle cures or non-compliant FDA/FTC stem cell procedures we are encouraged by the positive feedback patients report after undergoing stem cell transplants extracted from their fat and bone marrow cells. Some patients report a 50% improvement in knee mobility after undergoing intermediate/lower-level treatments such as prolotherapy, which is not quite as powerful as stem cell therapy but uses a similar injection process.
While results will differ depending on age and current knee condition the increasing embrace of knee stem cell therapy by professional athletes is a key indicator that regenerative medicine has adopted a leadership position in tackling joint-related injuries and degeneration which hinders all of us from enjoying daily activities such as walking, running and those in more elite sports such as football, from becoming rock star athletes and legends in the game.
NOTE: Our clinic follows all FDA guidelines in the preparation and handling of cellular therapies including stem cells. All procedures done in the clinic are Level 1(Local anesthesia) type procedures, which are the safest class of procedures for the patient. This means the patient remains fully conscious during the procedure and that only local anesthetics are used, similar to what a dentist does when numbing a tooth prior to repair. Please visit this page for more information about our current Stem Cell Promotion.