Who Can Benefit From Stem Cell Treatment, Or Regenerative Medicine?
Patients suffering from musculoskeletal conditions that haven't had effect from traditional treatment, or therapies may be ideal candidates for regenerative medicine, either as an addition to their already existing treatment or as a stand-alone therapy.
Examples of illnesses which may respond well to stem cell treatment include cartilage damage, tendon problems, muscle rupture or herniation of discs in the neck or back. Regenerative treatments are typically reserved for chronic and degenerative conditions that are not life-threatening but can have a severe impact on one's lifestyle and quality of life.
Why Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the body's natural repairmen and are thought to have amazing healing potential.
Unfortunately, in many areas of the adult body there are few to no stem cells; while there are large reservoirs of stem cells in several important areas, specifically, fatty tissue, bone marrow and in some of the other organs, like the liver. The repairmen in our joints however, are “used up” by small injuries and “wear and tear” damage.
The body also lacks any method of transporting stem cells from the reservoir in fatty tissue, or bone marrow to injured areas.
Reduced stem cell availability and effectiveness is a natural part of the aging process. Fortunately, stem cells are found in large numbers in bone marrow and adipose tissue throughout our entire lives. These cells are in a hibernation state, waiting to be called to action.
It is thought to be possible to harness regenerative effects of these cells, which have the potential to grow and repair not only their surroundings but many other tissues in the body, and we can transplant them to the areas of the body that need new repairmen.
This new batch of repairmen may have benefits with respect to healing and possibly regeneration of new tissue, decreasing pain and increasing function in and around injured areas or joints.
The following videos will explain this procedure in a simple way.
These videos are for illustration purposes only!
How do your body's natural repairmen help spinal degeneration?
Why you get arthritis and how stem cell treatment may help?
How stem cells are thought to regenerate tissue and stop joint pain?
Why not surgery?
The human body is not “just like any other machine” where you can swap out damaged parts for other mass produced versions
As with all organisms, it's not as simple as that. Musculoskeletal conditions tend to actually respond poorly to surgery, as the more we have read the research for orthopaedic surgery, the less promising the results are.
A randomized controlled trial published in 2015 showed that placebo or “sham” surgery is as effective as “real” surgery in reducing pain and disability. Link to research.
Therefore choosing surgery for degenerative processes or conditions is more contentious, and certainly not as advantageous as many doctors and patients think.
This is because surgery can be compared to replacing parts in a hand-forged object. Every piece of metal worked by hand is likely to have small changes, asymmetries or property differences.
This is much more pronounced when one plans to replace part of the body, made up of billions of cells with various functions, with a generic “one size fits all” metal and plastic prosthetic.
There are inherent risks associated with all surgeries, such as infection, injury, reaction to anaesthetics or more insidious problems like changing the biomechanics of the body, resulting in increased wear of other distant joints.
Spinal surgery is reserved for patients experiencing progressive neurological changes, who have not responded to conservative treatments like physiotherapy, training or chiropractic.
Current guidelines for surgical intervention are as follows:
When the patient has spinal stenosis causing weakness, reduced walking distance, loss of control or sensation in the bladder or rectum, or other neurological symptoms. (i.e. severe symptoms) For patients outside of this group conservative treatment like physiotherapy, chiropractic and training are recommended.
❌This is because surgery is a “local” solution to a “global” problem, providing only short term improvement in the affected region or area, while causing extra load and strain on surrounding areas by changing the dynamic movements of the body as a whole.
❌In the long-term, it is highly debatable whether patients who have undergone spinal surgery are any better off than they would have been otherwise.
❌In fact, some studies have shown that patients who undergo surgery have, at best, a 50% chance of improvement and at worst, a 4% chance of improvement. Link to research.
❌Spinal surgery comes with enormous risks. While surgeons undoubtedly do their utmost to reduce and mitigate these risks, it is impossible to eliminate them completely. Unfortunately, every year some patients die due to complications from spinal surgery. Link to research.
Surgery may cause irreversible harm
Why Do Some Studies Show That Stem Cell Treatment Is Effective While Others Show That It Is No More Effective Than Placebo?
DOSE IS IMPORTANT
This is a very relevant question that we take seriously and are actively researching here at Phoenix Helse. We would all feel frustrated if only given two days' worth of antibiotics which did not cure a pneumonia while knowing that seven days worth of the same antibiotic, however, would likely prove to successfully eradicate the infection. Halting treatment after 2 days and concluding it to be ineffective would clearly be a mistake, unethical and would in fact only increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance for the future.
In the same manner, dose is key to appropriate Stem cell treatment.
Therefore, we consider each patient individually. The same dose may not be effective for different patients, dependent on their own tissue, underlying conditions or illnesses, body composition and age.
If Stem cell treatment is so effective,
why is it not more widely used?
It is commonly believed that procedures done in hospital, prescribed by doctors or physiotherapists have been proven effective, but this is fare from the truth, particularly regarding musculoskeletal medicine.
This is very difficult to investigate without meeting considerable bias.
Stem Cell Treatment is safe.
It Is Safe & Worthy of Further Research
While we are among the first to agree that more research is needed to conclusively approve our approach we do have a large evidence base demonstrating that stem cell treatment for musculoskeletal problems is safe, while more research is needed to show efficacy. In particular we need more randomised controlled trials, double-blinded if possible, to prove beyond any shadow of doubt just how good these treatments are.
Studies Supporting Stem Cell Treatment
Click on the following icon to go to our page listing the relevant research. Here you will find not just one or two articles, but hundreds supporting and discussing the healing potential of stem cell treatment. We aim to offer a balanced approach and you will find both "positive" and "negative" results. Go to research page.
This Is True For All Medical Interventions
All existing medical interventions have potential for improvement and ought to be researched further.
This is true for almost all areas of modern medicine, whether it be cancer, arthritis, or migraine: all are areas where we need more and better research. Many of the current treatments available have not been proven to the degree that we would prefer, yet they have therapeutic value and are the best options we currently have in each respective field.
THERE IS NO STANDARDIZATION
Another major issue within the field of regenerative medicine is that there is no consensus or standardization for treatment. Almost all other medical treatments have standardized dosage, interval and in some cases techniques for treating patients. Within regenerative medicine these guidelines or standards have not yet been created.
We at Phoenix Helse have therefore created our own internal multi-disciplinary guidelines for treating patients with varying musculoskeletal problems or diseases.
Effects may vary in spite of our best efforts, as regenerative treatments are dependent on taking tissue from the patient themselves and using this to stimulate growth and repair. The effects vary widely depending on the patients general health, age, underlying conditions or illnesses and even body composition/type.
Some studies may show certain patients having been given a Stem cell treatment, with injections containing one hundred Stem cells whereas others have received up to 100 million stem cells in one dose. The results were understandably quite diverse.
If we were only to consider studies showing results for patients receiving 100 Stem cells rather than those with 100 million, conclusions would be vastly different than when we consider all various forms of “regnerative medicine”, indicating that dosage is very significant.
THE TISSUE FROM WHICH THE STEM CELL IS EXTRACTED EFFECTS THE OUTCOME
For the past 20 years the majority of the research has been focused on mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow.
✔️We now have learned that Stem cells retrieved from fatty tissue contains approximately 500-1000 times more Stem cells (colony forming units) per milliliter.
It is also crucial to understand that each joint has a different "tolerance" for total volume of material one can inject into it, limiting some smaller joints to lower dosage: only a certain amount of tissue can be injected before the joint or tissue is “full”.
Being capable of inserting one thousand times the amount of mesenchymal stem cells compared to what was previously possible, into the same area and with the same volume, completely changes the healing and growth potential for our patients. This is why we are highly committed to continuing research within this area.
✔️Using stem cells from adipose tissue is a huge leap forward for regenerative medicine, and in some studies we see significant improvement in function, with reduced pain. Patients must be individually examined and receive medical advice regarding potential or expected outcome and effect.
✔️As stem cell therapies are safe there is almost no reason not to try this type of treatment prior to any other more invasive type of treatment, as one can always continue on to a surgical treatment after a regenerative treatment, but one cannot go back from a surgery once it has been performed.
We can always guarantee the safety of our product. Why then, if we know this is so positive and safe, has stem cell treatment not been implemented by the public health system?
→ Unfortunately, studies show that once research begins to indicate positive effect, there is an average delay of 17 years before the new treatment is implemented into a public health system.
→ With any public health service comes a greater responsibility on the country's government, who are required to complete a full familiarization of the research process before acceptance.
→ Public health systems are often so overloaded that there is not sufficient time and means to address new and innovative procedures. It ends up being dependent on researchers in the private sector to undertake this pioneering work.
Why does the government not pay for my private treatment?
Dental treatment while widely understood to be imperative for health, is costly and in most countries not funded by public healthcare. We, like dentists, do not receive public funding.
As a private clinic we have to cover the costs of everything from administration, to equipment and even creating and maintaining this website!
IS IT WORTH IT?
Got "new" shoulders with stem cells
I lift, I paint and I use my arms all day at work without taking a single painkiller. I am pain free, and very, very happy.
-Wenche Aanonsen Bourke
The patient's expectation is one of the most important things to us here at Phoenix Helse. We always prioritize identifying the patient's expectation before advising them. To date, not one of our patients has been upset with the treatment they received. We do have patients who hoped for better results, but in spite of having incredible healing potential, we cannot guarantee a miracle. Don't just take our word for it, see what our patients think: