You’ve probably seen everyone from local chiropractors, to ER doctors, to orthopedic surgeons advertising magic stem cell injections to treat things like arthritis and back pain. What if we told you that stem cell injections for orthopedics conditions were first performed in Broomfield in 2005? That the Centeno-Schultz Clinic was first to perform such procedures and has published the largest datasets of worldwide research on them is still there and teaches physicians from all over the world. Knowing that, why would you pay for a stem cell procedure from someone who learned from a weekend seminar?
What’s in Broomfield?
Nobody in the state of Colorado nor nationally has a private practice research facility and clinical cell biology lab like the one just a few minutes outside Boulder.
Why? The Centeno-Schultz clinic is the headquarters for more than 60 national and eight international clinics that use the Regenexx brand. “What we have is unique. A full university style stem cell lab and clean room processing facility in a private medical practice,” said Christopher Centeno, M.D.
Stem cells are not magic pixie dust
First, despite what you may have read or been told in a free dinner seminar, stem cells aren’t magic. For example, they won’t regrow new knee cartilage if you have none. However, in the right patients and if the procedure is performed the right way, they can provide long-term relief of symptoms or tissue healing without the need for invasive surgery. There’s just one catch, you have to know what you’re doing.
Stem cells: Separating fact from hype
Before we get into what precision stem cell injection procedures can help or fix, it’s better to start with some myths perpetuated by clinics who have little expertise in this area.
Fetal or placental stem cells derived from amnion, amniotic fluid, or umbilical cords are a thing. WRONG. “Our advanced research lab and independent non-profits have tested these products and found them to contain no living cells, let alone living stem cells!” reports John Pitts, M.D. a clinic doctor.
You are too old to use your own stem cells. FALSE. “Your stem cells keep you alive and if you’re healthy and living, your stem cells are working just fine. Add into that the fact that the “young stem cells” hawked by many clinics are dead tissue and using your own cells is a no brainer,” says clinic physician Jason Markle, D.O.
The fat stem cell procedures used in Boulder have more stem cells. FALSE. “The system being used in Boulder is called Lipogems and our research shows it liberates far fewer stem cells than would be found in your own bone marrow,” relays Otono Silva, M.D., one of the clinics newest physicians.
Interventional orthopedics can get you back quicker
More and more studies are showing that surgical orthopedics is failing us. For example, we now have three randomized controlled trials demonstrating that meniscus surgery is ineffective. Other studies question whether we should be performing most rotator cuff repairs. Finally, researchers for some time have criticized most low back surgeries as being ineffective and invasive.
Is there a better way? Yep, it’s called Interventional Orthopedics. This is the use of precise x-ray or ultrasound guided procedures to target specific orthopedic injuries with stem cells or platelet-rich plasma, without the need for invasive surgery.
The Centeno-Schultz clinic has pioneered this field and teaches physicians from all over the world in this new medical specialty.
Can’t an orthopedic surgeon, an ER doctor, or a nurse perform these injections?
Nope. They’re all simply not qualified to precisely place these substances using imaging guidance without surgery. To do so requires mastery of both MSL ultrasound and fluoroscopy. This is why Centeno-Schultz has trained doctors in these techniques from Stanford, Georgetown, Emory, Baylor and many other top universities.
Why are professional athletes getting these treatments?
Pro athletes have been using platelet-rich plasma and stem cells treatments for years to avoid surgery and get back on the field more quickly. In fact, when you walk into the office at Centeno-Schultz, you’ll see pictures of many pro athletes the clinic has treated. Why do they come here? The clinic has more expertise in using stem cells to treat orthopedic injuries than any other place on earth.
What can be treated without surgery?
Arthritis patients who have moderate to severe knee arthritis who have been told they need a knee replacement are good candidates. Having said that, patients with severe hip arthritis are generally poor candidates for these types of stem cell-based procedures. Shoulder arthritis patients with severe disease respond more favorably.
Rotator Cuff Tears – about 70% of patients with a rotator cuff tear who have been told they need surgery are candidates for a precision stem cell injection procedure using ultrasound instead.
Knee ACL and other ligament tears like MCL, elbow and ankle. About seven in 10 knee ACL tears no longer need surgery. The clinic has developed a precise x-ray guided injection procedure to help these tears heal and published two scientific papers already with a third on the way.
Tendon tears – foot and ankle, knee, and other tendon tears are also commonly treated without surgery.
Neck and back pain – chronic pain suffers who have been told they need a fusion or other major surgery make up a large portion of the patients who are seen at the clinic and very few end up getting these procedures despite treatment.
So why do patients travel from all over the world to be seen at Centeno-Schultz in Broomfield? They invented the concept of orthopedic stem cell procedures and have published the most research on the topic. In fact, it’s just luck that they happen to be in our backyard! As clinic physician John Schultz says, “We’re as likely to see a patient from Boulder as Australia, but our Boulder patients don’t travel quite as far!”
Article originally published in the Daily Camera on 10/18/2018: