Stem cell therapy is an exciting development in the treatment of pain conditions and diseases. Let’s look at what adult stem cells are and the two common types used for musculoskeletal treatment, those sourced from bone marrow and from the fat.

One of the most promising non-surgical treatments for numerous types of injuries and diseases is stem cell therapy. The most common way that stem cells are currently utilized in treating musculoskeletal conditions is via harvesting of adult stem cells from the patient’s own body and injecting them at the site of damage.

What is an Adult Stem Cell?

stem cellsAn adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell that coexists with differentiated cells within an organ or tissue, according to the National Institutes of Health. These incredible cells can eventually become one of the specialized cells of the organ or tissue. The main function of these cells is to repair any damaged tissue in their vicinity. These stem cells are also called somatic stem cells (meaning that they are not egg, sperm, or germ cells).

When stem cells are used for treatment, they are typically taken from either the bone marrow or adipose tissue, the latter of which is the body’s fat. Blood containing stem cells is extracted and placed in a centrifuge. There the cells are concentrated. They are then reintroduced to the body at the site of injury.

Bone Marrow vs. Adipose-Derived Stem Cells

In terms of effectiveness of stem cell therapy, bone marrow stem cells and adipose-derived ones are essentially the same. “Whether your adult mesenchymal stem cells come from bone marrow or from fat probably does not make a difference in terms of clinical results,” notes the Cell Surgical Network. “Although some centers claim that bone marrow derived cells are superior to fat-derived cells, there is no evidence to substantiate that.”

Why are Adipose Stem Cells Preferable?

Both types of stem cell have been shown to help heal cartilage by turning into functional cells within it. The Lipogems technique produces micronized adipose tissue which means the adipose tissue is broken down into small particles and is actually considered more powerful because it is extraordinarily anti-inflammatory.

Bone marrow stem cells also have been shown to diminish with age and illness. Fat-derived cells, on the other hand, are abundant, explains the Cell Surgical Network, which adds that “the ease of removing fat from under the skin… is much less invasive and painful than undergoing bone marrow aspiration.”

Regenerative Medical Expertise

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