Stem Cell Therapy

I recently had someone ask me if the treatments where stem cells are used re-grow cartilage in a joint really work. I have been doing a lot of research about this topic and even attended one of their educational workshops. Using The Stem Institute of America’s protocol, they use amniotic stem cell tissue obtained from a tissue bank that has been irradiated to kill pathogens, frozen for storage, and then thawed and pulverized into a powder. Once reconstituted at the doctor’s office, it is injected into a patient’s joint by a nurse practitioner. It is a blind injection, meaning, there is no guided imagery to insure proper placement of the needle. The premise is that over the next few months, your body will repair and regrow cartilage, ligaments and tissues, reducing inflammation and pain.

The problem is that according to the FDA, these cells are not actually alive. In fact, the FDA has mailed warning letters to manufacturers of amniotic derived products due to their misleading  marketing techniques. According the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation, a non profit foundation focused on Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine, independent lab tests confirm the absence of live functioning stem cells in amniotic tissue. So, this isn’t actually stem cells they are using. The only way you can get stem cell therapy is with cells that have been harvested from your own body as in bone marrow or adipose tissue.

One injection costs $5000 unless you sign up that day,  and then you get a $500 discount, to make it $4500 per injection. What if you need more than 1  injection? And, on top of that, it is not covered by insurance.

There is no real evidence that amniotic stem cells help do anything. There are “case studies” but there are no large clinical trials to  suggest that these injections work.

On the other hand, there are a number of studies on low level laser therapy (LLLT or cold laser therapy) . LLLT has been used for over 35 years in Europe, Asia,  Australia and Canada and was FDA approved for use in the United States in 2002. LLLT has been shown to be effective in a variety of musculo-skeletal conditions. In a review of 18 studies,  patients with Rheumatoid arthritis reported an 80% success in relieving pain. A study of 40 patients who suffered from Osteoarthritis of the knee, showed a significant reduction in pain in 82% of the patients. Cold laser therapy: reduces pain by causing the production of natural pain killer endorphins; suppresses inflammatory enzymes that create swelling, redness, pain and heat;   stimulates the release of healing enzymes; reduces pain and inflammation, stimulates nerve regeneration, and increases cellular energy by 150% which speeds and improves the healing process.

We have been using Cold Laser therapy for 8 years with great success. We have used cold laser therapy on patients who suffer from shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain, plantar fasciitis, arthritis and many other painful conditions. Many of my patients see dramatic results after 4 treatments. Even though Cold Laser therapy is not covered by insurance, the charge is nominal compared to these injections.

Cold Laser Therapy for Knee Pain

Are you suffering from knee pain and want to avoid painful shots or joint replacement surgery?  Our FDA cleared Low level Laser Therapy (LLLT) or Cold laser Therapy, which can dramatically reduce musculoskeletal pain and inflammation as well as promote tissue repair, which will help you avoid shots or surgery.

LLLT has been used for over 35 years in Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada and was approved for use in the US in 2002. LLLT has been shown to be effective in a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, LLLT can benefit acute and chronic joint pain. In a review of 18 studies, patients reported an 80% success rate in relieving pain. Another study noted a pain attenuation of up to 90%. A study of 40 patients who suffered from Osteoarthritis of the Knee, showed a significant reduction in pain in 82% of the patients. In a report of 1000 treatments with LLLT for a variety of chronic pain syndromes, an overall reduction in pain levels of 70% was established.

 Cold Laser Therapy has been shown to:

* Reduce pain by causing the production of natural pain killer endorphins.

* Reduce inflammation by suppressing inflammatory enzymes that create swelling, redness, pain and heat.

* Enhance lymphatic drainage, which increases circulation and speeds healing.

* Stimulate the release of healing enzymes.

* Release tight muscles that create chronic pain, joint problems, and decreased mobility.

* Increase collagen and produces new capillaries.

*Reduce pain and inflammation, stimulates nerve regeneration and increases the immune response.

*Re-energize injured cell membranes and increases mitochondrial energy by 150%, which speeds and improves the healing process!

*Increase cellular health and energy by increasing production of ATP in cells.

Give us a call and set up a consultation appointment to learn more about this amazing therapy.

Glucosamine, Chondroitin or Glucosamine Chondroitin for Joint Pain?

If you suffer from joint pain—especially in the knees, hips, and elbows—you’re in very good company. In fact, an estimated 27 million Americans with osteoarthritis “share your pain”. With a condition that affects so many people, it’s not surprising that researchers and clinicians are interested in finding ways to help “regrow” lost cartilage in damaged joints. Nutritional supplements have become a focus of their efforts.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two promising candidates now on the market. They are both naturally-occurring substances found in the connective tissues that surround joints. The theory is that taking supplements containing these ingredients might help to slow—or even reverse—the loss of cartilage. Chondroitin also has an anti-inflammatory effect that some researchers believe could possibly help to reduce swelling. The goal, of course, is to reduce pain and restore function in the affected joints.

Before you rush off to try these supplements, though, you should consider the most recent research that’s has been done on them. These studies do offer some hope for osteoarthritis sufferers, but they also suggest some important caveats that you need to be aware of. For example, after reading these first paragraphs, you might be tempted to buy bottles of both glucosamine and chondroitin, or to buy them in a combined form called glucosamine chondroitin. Do yourself a favor and read the rest of this article before you do.

If G provides relief and C provides relief, then G+C must provide even more relief, right?

Wrong. Clinical trials have shown that taking glucosamine and chondroitin together doesn’t necessarily provide more relief. In fact, the opposite may even be true. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently completed a $12.5 million study involving 1,583 patients suffering from various levels of osteoarthritis-related joint pain. Some were given only glucosamine (in the form of glucosamine sulfate), others were given only chondroitin (in the form of chondroitin sulfate), and a third group was giving a combination of the two (marketed as glucosamine chondroitin). A fourth group was given an anti-inflammatory drug (celecoxib), and a fifth control group was given a placebo.

The results were fascinating. As expected, a statistically significant number of the celecoxib patients reported some relief from their pain. Overall, patients in all three of the supplement groups having mild pain experienced little relief compared to the placebo group. But among the supplement groups, those patients plagued with moderate-to-severe pain experienced significant pain relief compared to the placebo group, as long as they were taking either glucosamine alone, or chondroitin alone. Those taking the two drugs in combination experienced no significant pain relief. Osteoarthritis researchers have theorized that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin may produce a molecule that is too large to be easily digested and absorbed, and thus the combination of the two supplements together actually reduces the effectiveness that either of them might have on their own.

So should I try these supplements or not?

As with any other nutritional supplement you might be considering, be sure to talk with a qualified healthcare provider before taking either glucosamine or chondroitin. This is particularly true if you are using other medications or supplements with which they might interact. That said, you should be aware that the larger finding of the NIH study was that neither of these supplements “worked” for everyone. But they did have a statistically significant benefit for a certain percentage of patients experiencing moderate-to-severe pain. Also bear in mind that the individual supplements – glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate—seemed to be more effective for more people in the study than the combination of the two.

Though good nutrition can certainly play a role in joint health, weight loss and exercise are still among the most effective ways to manage osteoarthritis. Chiropractors are experts in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions and can design a holistic treatment plan to meet your specific needs. So if you or someone you care about is suffering from osteoarthritis symptoms, contact our office today. We can help!

A Chiropractic Approach to Knee Pain

Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic ailments treated by chiropractic physicians. This isn’t too surprising when you stop to think about it. After all, the knee absorbs an enormous amount of stress and is designed to bend in only one direction. At the same time, though, many of the movements we make (particularly in sports) force the knee to bend slightly in other directions while still requiring it to support the full weight of the body in motion above it. If the biomechanics are off or the joint and surrounding muscles aren’t strong enough, this is a recipe for potential knee pain and injury.

But athletics don’t account for as much of today’s knee pain as you might suspect. The larger culprits are obesity and sedentary lifestyles.  You may not realize it, but this combination isn’t just bad for cardiovascular and metabolic health. It’s also bad for musculoskeletal health!  All that extra weight adds to the daily wear and tear on the body’s frame—bones, muscles and joints. But especially the knees!  We suspect this is one of the key reasons we’re seeing a dramatic increase in some types of knee surgery as well as full knee replacements among patients who are still relatively young.

  • In cases involving torn knee cartilage, many patients undergo a minimally-invasive surgery called a “partial meniscectomy” that trims and removes the torn pieces so that they don’t interfere with the knee’s function. About 700,000 people undergo this procedure in the US every year at an estimated cost of roughly $4 billion.
  • Over the past decade, there has been a major increase in the rate of total knee replacements (also called “knee arthroplasties”), with rates expected to rise by as much as 670% by 2030, amounting to a staggering 3.48 million procedures.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that it doesn’t have to come to this. The chiropractic approach to knee pain starts with prevention and favors early, conservative treatments that don’t involve the risks associated with surgery and drugs.

Wear the proper shoes for your needs and use custom orthotics if appropriate.  If your feet are overpronated (roll to the inside) or supinated (roll to the outside), or if you have fallen arches, it can affect your biomechanics when you stand, walk or run.  Over time, this can lead to compensation higher in the body that produces uneven wear and tear on your knees and increases the risk of injury.  The same thing is true for your hips and back.

Your chiropractor can analyze the structure of your foot as well as your posture and gait (the way you move when you walk and run) to assess your biomechanics.  If necessary, he or she may recommend custom orthotics as well as exercises or changes to your biomechanics in order to relieve pain, prevent future problems and (if you’re an athlete) improve performance.

Be smart about how you exercise and listen to your body.  This can be a particular problem for “weekend warriors.”  Many middle age adults (more men than women) overestimate the physical condition they’re in.  They often can’t or don’t exercise regularly during the week but still want to go all-out in weekend competition.  This can contribute to an overloading of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in knees that aren’t strong enough to handle the sudden surge in physical demands.  It’s not surprising that acute knee injuries and/or an accumulation of micro-tears are frequently the result.

Lose weight if you need to—and the sooner the better.  Any high-impact activities are extra hard on the knees if you’re overweight, but exercise is clearly critical to burning more calories and reversing the situation.  What can you do?  The answer is to focus on lower-impact activities that burn lots of calories while saving your joints until you achieve a more normal weight.  Swimming, rowing and cycling are all good candidates.

It’s important to recognize and get ahead of this issue early, since being overweight or obese can lead to chronic joint problems, which can reduce your ability to be active.  This in turn increases the risk that you’ll gain even more weight in the future.  One of the best ways to reduce unnecessary wear-and-tear on your knees, hips and back and to avoid the vicious cycle of weight gain, musculoskeletal pain and inactivity is to lose extra pounds EARLY!

Increase your strength and flexibility.  Concentrate on strengthening and stretching the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) muscles, since these provide the greatest support to the knees and ensure that the patella tracks properly.  Women are especially prone to improper patellar tracking, which places more stress on the ligaments of the knee.  This creates a popping or grinding sound when you bend the knee, often accompanied by pain.  Yoga and Pilates are good ways to keep the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the leg and knee strong and flexible.

Get regular chiropractic treatment.  A well-trained and experienced chiropractic physician will be able to perform a variety of specialized adjustment, manipulation and mobilization techniques that can relieve pain and improve function in the knees.  In certain cases, manual therapies such as chiropractic care may offer just as much benefit to knee injury patients as arthroscopic surgery.  A group of researchers who recently published their findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked specifically at the effectiveness of a common procedure called “arthroscopic meniscal debridement” for age-related meniscus tears in middle-aged patients and concluded that more conservative (non-surgical) treatment should actually be the preferred first-line option.

Know your options.  All of this is NOT to say that surgery isn’t sometimes necessary or helpful to relieve pain and help people lead an active, healthy lifestyle.  Knee replacement surgery offers new mobility to patients whose joints have been compromised and has allowed millions of people to be active once again, when previously they would have had to be confined to a wheelchair.

However, we believe that patients should explore more conservative options before deciding on surgery.  Chiropractic care and other manual therapies have many advantages over treatments that involve surgery and drugs.  This has been pretty well established when it comes to relieving chronic back and neck pain and restoring mobility.  Now there’s new evidence that this may apply to a common knee injury as well.  For instance, a recent study conducted in Finland found that patients who underwent a partial meniscectomy to address problems related to torn knee cartilage were actually no better off than patients in a control group who received a “simulated” surgical treatment (the surgical equivalent of a placebo).  And another recent study demonstrated that physical therapy was just as effective as knee surgery for patients with both a meniscal tear and osteoarthritis.

So—in our view—the best thing you can do is to take good care of your knees NOW, before the need for surgery arises.  Remember—the things you do today can prevent serious problems tomorrow.  Call or visit our office today to learn more!