Stem Cell Therapy For Hip Pain
Hip pain may be less common than other forms of body pain, but it can be among the most debilitating types of pain. Fifteen percent of people above the age of 65 report that they suffer from hip pain. Not only is hip pain more difficult to treat, any invasive treatment for hip pain is invariably followed by long periods of immobilization and rehabilitation. We at Spectrum Health believe that hip pain should not take over your life! Read on to find out how we use cutting-edge regenerative medicine to deal with hip pain.
What Are The Conditions That Could Be Causing Pain In My Hip?
The hip joint is a complex structure, made up of bones, cartilage and several muscles and tendon. Any condition that causes swelling or damage to these structures can cause hip pain. Damage to soft tissues such as the cartilage and tendons can disrupt the integrity of the joint, and change the bone morphology, which worsens pain. The following conditions are most commonly associated with hip pain:
- Arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Bursitis – inflammation of fluid filled sacs in the joint
- Hip labral tears – tears int he cartilage ring surrounding the joint
- Hip impingement – growth of bone ‘spurs’ in the joint
At Spectrum Health, the good news is many times the above conditions may be treated with minimally invasive injections before committing to more invasive surgical option.
Why Should I Be Considering Stem Cell Therapy For Hip Pain?
Without invasive surgery, you have very few treatment options to relieve pain in your hip. Corticosteroid injections can relieve pain temporarily, but can eventually worsen degenerative changes to the hip. Other injections, such as hyaluronic acid, prolotherapy and amniotic tissue products have been tried with minimal results. While they do not worsen the condition of the hip, they don’t halt the progress of the disease either, and their effect is also temporary. Most patients, therefore, eventually turn to surgery, either hip replacement surgery, or hip resurfacing. Both these procedures may be traumatic for some people and require long-term post surgical rehabilitation. They have also been associated with serious adverse events such as infections and venous thromboembolism.
Stem cells, on the other hand, have been established as effective in aiding the process of regeneration. These cells not only halt the disease progress, but also reverse it by repairing damaged tissue and restoring normal joint anatomy. Many medical centers are recognizing the value of stem cell therapy as a viable alternative to surgery. This procedure is office based, and does not require lengthy workup and admissions. The actual procedure can be done in a single day, and does not require a recovery period – you can get back to an active lifestyle almost at once!
Not sure if you are the right candidate? Set up an appointment with Dr. Joseph Locke, who will review your X-rays and MRI scans. Based on these, and your overall physical health and status, he will let you know if stem cell injections are the right kind of treatment for your specific kind of pain.
Is There Enough Evidence That Stem Cells Can Heal My Hip Pain?
In one word – yes. Several studies, both in animal models and humans, have shown that stem cells are capable of remodeling bone and repairing cartilage in various joints of the body. Clinical trials have been performed, in which stem cells were used for treatment of hip conditions such as osteoarthritis, with good results. A few examples of these are given below.
- The results of 60 clinical studies, that evaluated the regeneration of joint cartilage following stem cell therapy, were summarized by Filardo et al. (2016).1 They stated that there was a definite clinical improvement associated with stem cell therapy, and this was supplemented with positive MRI findings.
- A study conducted by Centeno et al. (2014), investigated the efficacy and safety of bone marrow stem cell injections in 196 patients who had hip osteoarthritis.2 They found significant improvement in the numeric pain scores reported by patients. An improvement in functionality of the joint was also reported.
- A systematic review of 16 studies, by Liu et al. (2014),3 evaluated the efficacy of stem cell injections in avascular necrosis of the hip joint. Preclinical studies showed an improvement in bone formation, as well as blood flow to the joint, while the clinical studies that they analyzed showed improved patient outcomes.
- Another study, by Mardones et al. (2017),4 followed ten patients who underwent mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the treatment of hip osteoarthritis. They found statistically significant improvement of several parameters including pain, stiffness, physical function and range of motion. There was also noticeable improvement in the radiographic images of the same patients.
Where Do The Stem Cells Used For Treatment Come From?
Stem cells can be harvested either form your own body, or from compatible donors. We prefer to use ‘autologous’ cells, that is, cells taken from your own body, to increase the chances of healing, while minimizing adverse effects. Your own body has a ready supply of stem cells available, to help repair tissue that is damaged. Unfortunately, these may not be mobilized to the areas of damage as quickly as we’d like, and the rate of movement is much lesser than the rate of progression of the disease. This is where we come in. By taking stem cells from areas where they are commonly found, and re-introducing them into damaged tissue, we speed up the body’s natural process of repair and regeneration.
Stem cells are abundantly present in body fat and bone marrow. Fat is usually taken from invisible areas, such as the stomach. Bone marrow can be taken from the back of the hip, which generally has good quantities. For stem cell injections into the hip, we at Spectrum Health prefer stem cells that have been harvested from bone marrow.
What Is The Procedure Involved During Stem Cell Injections Into The Hip?
The entire procedure at Spectrum Health is performed in a single visit lasting a few hours. You will however, require two separate appointments – one before the procedure, to evaluate your health status, and one follow-up appointment after the procedure. The procedure is office based, and does not require hospital admission or general anesthesia.
First, we harvest bone marrow from the back of your hip, which is numbed before a needle is inserted. It is just like drawing blood, and is relatively painless. The bone marrow that we aspirate is then sent down to our laboratory, where advanced equipment is used to isolate the stem cells from the rest of the marrow tissue. This ensures that a high concentration of stem cells get delivered to your hip. The stem cells are then purified and prepared for injection.
Once the stem cells are ready to use, the area of your hip joint is numbed and prepared to receive the stem cells. Dr. Joseph Locke doesn’t believe in ‘random’ or ‘blind’ injections – the injections are delivered precisely to specific areas of damage. This is done by locating the damaged tissue, and advancing the needle towards it under fluoroscopic guidance. Once the needle is in place, its position is confirmed using fluoroscopy. The stem cells are then delivered to the area so that they can begin the process of healing and regeneration.
Dr. Joseph Locke may also combine stem cells with platelet rich plasma, which is harvested from your blood and processed at our laboratory prior to injection. This adds growth factors to the healing mix, thus hastening the process of regeneration.
Should I Be Worried About Side Effects From Stem Cell Hip Injectons?
There is no need to worry about serious side effects. Since stem cell injections are a ‘biologic’ form of treatment, they cannot possibly damage the tissues into which they’ve been injected. The review of 60 studies (Filardo et al., 2016)1 documented that no adverse effects have been linked at all to stem cell injections.
Some studies have reported minor adverse effects,2 which are mostly related to the injection process. These are extremely rare, and include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Minor swelling and bruising
- Skin rashes and infection
These can be mostly managed by prescription drugs such as painkillers.
Start Feeling Better Today!
- Filardo G, Perdisa F, Roffi A, Marcacci M, Kon E. Stem cells in articular cartilage regeneration. J Orthop Surg Res. 2016;11:42. doi:10.1186/s13018-016-0378-x
- Centeno CJ, Pitts JA, Al-Sayegh H, Freeman MD. Efficacy and Safety of Bone Marrow Concentrate for Osteoarthritisof the Hip; Treatment Registry Results for 196 Patients. J Stem Cell Res Ther 2014; 4:242. doi:10.4172/2157-7633.1000242
- Lau RL, Perruccio AV, Evans HM, Mahomed SR, Mahomed NN, Gandhi R. Stem cell therapy for the treatment of early stage avascular necrosis of the femoral head: a systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014;15:156. Published 2014 May 16. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-156
- Mardones R, Jofré CM, Tobar L, Minguell JJ. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy in the treatment of hip osteoarthritis. J Hip Preserv Surg. 2017;4(2):159-163. doi:10.1093/jhps/hnx011