Limited or painful shoulder movement can hinder everyday tasks like reaching for a cup in an overhead cabinet, or even a simple wave goodbye. In the past, the only way to alleviate pain was with ice packs, heat pads, physical therapy, pain medication, or surgery. Some of these options may temporarily reduce discomfort, but they are not lasting remedies for chronic pain, and some people may not want to pursue surgical intervention. But, with modern scientific advancements and a greater understanding of the human anatomy, pain can now be controlled with minimally invasive stem cell therapy for shoulders.
- 1 About Stem Cell Therapy for Shoulder Pain and Injuries
- 2 Shoulder Injuries Treated with Stem Cell Therapy
- 3 Good Candidates
- 4 How to Treat the Shoulder with Stem Cell Therapy
- 5 Recovery
- 6 Consultation & Cost
About Stem Cell Therapy for Shoulder Pain and Injuries
There are new stem cells constantly being born when old ones die. The benefit of these unspecialized stem cells is their ability to transform into other cell types and heal the body. But when the body sustains a bad injury such as a torn rotator cuff, the degenerative process exceeds the stem cells regenerative capabilities. This results in painful, weakened functionality of the affected area. Shoulder stem cell therapy is a treatment that obtains stem cells from other locations of the body and condenses them for re-injection into the injured shoulder.
The adult stem cells are harvested by Dr. Younai or Dr. Fishman with a unique liposuction technique, typically performed on the waist or flanks which have a plethora of adult stem cells. About 45cc of adipose tissue is usually taken per liposuction location. The fat graft is suctioned into a tube which is then placed in a centrifuge. This is a system which spins the tube rapidly, causing the separation of adult adipose derived stem cells from the fluid and adipose tissue portion of the graft. This process will condense the 45cc to 10cc, every cc of adipose tissue has between 500,000 – 1,000,000 unspecialized adult stem cells.
The body contains billions of unspecialized stem cells.
Once the pure stem cells are separated, they are ready to be injected into the injured area(s) of the shoulder. There are already adult stem cells in the shoulder, but by injecting a condensed amount, it speeds up and heightens the repair process.
Stem cell therapy for shoulder pain is one of the fastest growing regenerative treatments in Los Angeles. The use of adult stem cells has been extensively studied and proven to repair damaged tissue and naturally heal the body.
Shoulder Injuries Treated with Stem Cell Therapy
Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. This occurs when the cartilage that covers the top of the bones, known as articular cartilage, degenerates or wears down. This causes swelling, joint pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Damage from mechanical stress with insufficient self-repair by joints is believed to be the primary cause of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis most often occurs in people who are over 50. In younger people, osteoarthritis can result from an injury or trauma such as a fractured or dislocated joint. Rarely, osteoarthritis may also be hereditary.
Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is most commonly seen in patients who have experienced shoulder dislocations, fractures involving the humeral head and glenoid portions of the joint, long term strenuous use of the shoulder above the horizontal, and other post-traumatic conditions. The most common initial symptom of shoulder osteoarthritis is joint pain, stiffness, weakness, and loss of shoulder motion. Shoulder cracking, catching, and rarely instability, can develop.
Tendinitis refers to inflammation of a tendon, a flexible band of tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. The pull of the muscles is transmitted to the bone by the tendons which allow movement. When the tendons are inflamed and irritated, the pulling action of the muscle is impaired with loss of function of the joint. Symptoms usually occur as aches and pains or joint stiffness, but can also present as burning, swelling, or visible knots around the joint.
Tendonitis pain, commonly, is worse during activities and can become stiff after the activity or the following day.
Tendinosis is an injury caused by numerous small tendon tears that didn’t heal properly over time. Patients commonly find it almost impossible to keep from restraining the tendon, because even when the pain is gone, the tendon still hasn’t fully healed.
Tendinitis around the shoulder commonly occurs in individuals that frequently require extending the arms overhead, such as individuals involved in sports, and work related activities. This can result in rotator cuff tendinitis with impingement syndrome, a condition characterized by compression of soft tissue between the humerus and the top of the shoulder during shoulder elevation. Biceps tendinitis is inflammation of the main tendon that attaches the top of the biceps muscle to the shoulder. The most common cause is overuse from certain types of work and sports activities.
Rotator Cuff Injury
A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that envelops the shoulder joint. There is one rotator cuff in each shoulder. Its purpose is to stabilize the shoulder joint and aid in shoulder movement and rotation. Injury to a rotator cuff severely compromises and hinders functionality of the shoulder.
Injuries can include a tear, irritation, or overuse of one or several the four rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. The tendons, not the muscles, of the rotator cuff are usually the source of injury.
The most common signs of a rotator cuff injury are shoulder pain, weakness, or discomfort. This tends to happen with shoulder activity higher than horizontal position.
It can happen to:
- Individuals who continually lift with overhead motion have a higher risk of tearing their rotator cuff.
- People with occupations like carpenters, painters, custodians involving overhead work.
- Athletes routinely using overhead motion like football, volleyball, baseball, and swimming.
Bursitis is the inflammation or irritation of a bursa, which is a closed, fluid-filled sac that functions as a cushion, and provides a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues around joints. Essentially, a bursa provides a slick surface, so that tendons and ligaments can slide across a bony prominence so it doesn’t catch or rub against the bone. The major bursae are located adjacent to tendons around large joints throughout the body.
Once a bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis.
Once a bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, recovery can be surprisingly long, requiring reduction in activity for an extended period of time to allow the person to heal. It can often be difficult or next to impossible to keep from injuring the bursa because it is not possible to stop everything and immobilize the joint entirely. Everyone has demands on them that keep them going, and therefore the normal process of bursitis healing is short-circuited. Thus we continue to irritate the injured bursa prolonging the healing time more and more as we carry out our everyday activities. If bursitis persists and is left untreated, calcium deposits can form within the bursa. These calcium deposits limit range of motion and can lead to permanent joint stiffness and recurrent joint pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis, RA for short, is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and pain of the joints. Although the wrist joint is typically affected, the disorder can affect other joints such as the shoulder. Although the root cause of rheumatoid arthritis isn’t completely clear, it’s known that it does involve a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The underlying process involves the joints being attacked by the immune system, in turn affecting the cartilage and bones.
The diagnosis is primarily based on the person’s signs and symptoms, with the assistance of x-rays and laboratory testing.
RA typically presents with signs of inflammation with the affected joints being swollen, warm, painful and stiff, particularly early in the morning upon awakening, or following prolonged activity. Increased stiffness early in the morning is a prominent feature of this disease and typically last for more than an hour. As the pathology progresses, the inflammatory activity leads to tendon tethering with erosion and destruction of the joint surface. This ultimately impairs range of movement and can lead to deformity. RA also can involve the skin, lungs, kidneys, heart, and vessels, as well as multiple other body systems. RA reduces lifespan an average from 3 to 12 years, but a positive response to treatment may indicate a better prognosis.
RA involving the shoulder causes swelling, pain, and adversely affects range of motion and functional ability to perform everyday tasks. The shoulder joint typically becomes red and hot as well, with progressive shoulder pain and stiffness. Use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are the primary treatment for shoulder R.A.
Labral and SLAP Injuries
A SLAP (superior labral tear anterior to posterior) tear is an injury to the glenoid labrum, the cartilage rim around the shoulder joint socket. A SLAP tear occurs because of damage to the labrum’s superior area.
Tears involving the labrum itself, are also common in individuals performing overhead activities or throwing activities.
Symptoms of labral injuries include throbbing pain and discomfort in the shoulder joint from strenuous activity or everyday movement. Sleeping may be uncomfortable due to shoulder pain. Any applied force overhead or pushing directly into the shoulder can result in impingement or tensing sensation.
Candidates for stem cell therapy for shoulder pain include healthy women and men who suffer from osteoarthritis, tendonitis, rotator cuff injury, bursitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or SLAP injury and have not found long term relief with pain medication or physical therapy. However, not all candidates need to suffer from the aforementioned conditions. Stem cell therapy is able to address general shoulder pain as well. People seeking this treatment tend to not want to undergo shoulder surgery.
It is important for all candidates to have realistic expectations of stem cell treatment. It cannot guarantee pain-free results, although this is the case for many patients. Multiple injections may be needed to reach the desired result. The home of Dr. Stem Cell welcomes all patients interested in the treatment to contact us and request a private consultation.
How to Treat the Shoulder with Stem Cell Therapy
The adult adipose stem cells that are harvested will be injected into the shoulder joint with x-ray guidance utilizing local anesthesia. Once inside the shoulder joint, stem cells have the capability to fix cartilage in several ways. The stem cells will secrete various soluble factors which amend tissue microenvironment by cytokines and growth factors that stimulate repair and restoration of cartilage. The entire process, including the liposuction, centrifugation, and reinjection, takes about 2 hours.
Once the procedure is complete, most patients are able to return to their normal routine. However, they may feel sore at the injection sites and liposuction location for the following week. Ice can relieve discomfort, and any resulting muscle spasms can be eased with a heating pad. Generally, patients are asked to not lift weight or heavy items for about 3 weeks. The shoulder after shoulder stem cell therapy will begin to improve after 4 months!
Consultation & Cost
The initial consultation is an important part of the stem cell therapy process. This is the time where the doctor will examine the patient’s shoulder and determine if stem cell therapy can address the injury and pain. If the patient is a good candidate, treatment specifics will be discussed, such as liposuction location, injection location, and cost.
Cost can only be determined after the initial consultation with Dr. Fishman or Dr. Younai. Since this is a customized treatment, price is reflective of, but not limited to, amount of liposuction, choice of anesthesia, amount of injection locations, etc. A quote can be provided at the end of the consultation. We welcome all people interested in this treatment to contact us today to request your consultation appointment and get more information.