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do stem cell injections work for a torn rotator cuff

The rotator cuff is the cluster of ligaments and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, keeping the ball of the upper arm inside the socket of the shoulder. When the rotator cuff suffers an injury, this can cause debilitating pain, diminished function, and decreased range of motion. Rotator cuff injuries are very common among athletes and individuals with manual labor jobs, such as factory and warehouse workers, package deliverers, and other types of work that involve lifting and carrying heavy objects.

Many people who experience rotator cuff injuries experience long-term pain and diminished function for quite a long time after these injuries. Typical treatments include rest, icing, compression, and elevation, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, analgesic medications, and steroids. In extreme cases, patients may require surgery to repair severely torn rotator cuffs. Thanks to innovative new breakthroughs in stem cell therapy, people struggling with torn rotator cuffs may have a new treatment option in the form of stem cell injections for the shoulder.

How Do Stem Cell Injections Work?

Stem cells are one of the building blocks of the cells of the human body. They are capable of developing into many different types of cells. During stem cell therapy, the team performing the procedure extracts the patient’s own stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow and then injects those healthy stem cells into the target area for regeneration. Stem cells will take on the characteristics of the other cells at the injection site.

Also known as “regenerative medicine,” stem cell therapy essentially uses the body’s own building blocks to repair damaged cells in other parts of the body. Recent tests and clinical studies have proven very promising, with many patients who undergo this procedure reporting significant improvement compared to patients who only received traditional treatments such as surgical rotator cuff repair.

Clinical Studies of Stem Cell Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries

In a ten-year study of 45 patients who underwent rotator cuff repair, half of the patients received stem cell injections from their own bone marrow in their damaged rotator cuffs, while the other half did not. The patients who received stem cell injections reported 100% healing after six months, while only 67% of the group who did not receive stem cell injections reported compete healing.

Ten years following recovery, 87% of the patients who received stem cell therapy still had intact rotator cuffs while only 44% of the other group reported the same showing stem cell injections can last a long time. MRI imaging performed on these patients also reported that patients who received stem cell therapy had more intact and thicker rotator cuffs than patients who did not*.

Things to Know About Stem Cell Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Many patients who wish to try stem cell therapy for rotator cuff injuries typically find that financing options make it affordable, allowing them to enjoy relief from their rotator cuff injury symptoms more fully than traditional treatments.

Rotator cuff injuries are painful, and stem cell therapy could potentially prevent some patients from requiring surgery to repair degenerative rotator cuff injuries later in life. Stem Cell treatments have been successfully in treating other ailments such as arthritis in addition to shoulder injuries. If you have suffered a rotator cuff injury and wish to avoid surgery, it is crucial to consider the benefits of this form of treatment and ask your doctor if this procedure could be helpful to you.

*Biologic augmentation of rotator cuff repair with mesenchymal stem cells during arthroscopy improves healing and prevents further tears: a case-controlled study.;  Heringou P. et. al.; Int Orthop. 2014 Sep;38(9):1811-8.  doi: 10.1007/s00264-014-2391-1.  Epub 2014 Jun 7.

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