December 2015

Stem Cell Treatment – Reaching a New Generation

The potential benefits of Stem Cell Therapy have been well-documented, and the list is only growing. Although a relatively new field of medicine, and therefore bound to much scrutiny, it is undeniable that the treatment is gaining in popularity and reaching a new audience.

Typically, the treatment has been sought after by the elderly community with the hope of reversing the physical signs and symptoms of ageing – rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other degenerative joint diseases, to name a few. There have even been studies of the potential benefits of SCT for heart-attack survivors.

 

But it’s not just the elderly who suffer from these conditions – athletes endure brutal trauma to their bodies through training and competition, so much so that the need to alleviate pain and increase performance is an absolute necessity. Joint replacement surgery not only costs a fortune, but can keep an athlete out of the game for up to three years and in some cases, even for life due to chronic pain. Biologic treatments are gaining in popularity amongst athletes as they are easy, relatively pain-free, but most importantly, recovery time can be as short as one week.

Recurring knee injuries caused pro-tennis player Rafael Nadal to sit out most of the 2012 tennis season. After many failed attempts to alleviate his knee pain, he opted to try stem cell therapy in 2013 with the hope of returning to play the following year. He went on to win 10 titles in 2014 – arguably one of his best seasons yet. 

 

Because of the success he experienced with his knee, Nadal turned again to stem cell therapy when a severe pain in his back had the potential to stop him from playing yet another season this year. Unfortunately a bout of appendicitis kept Nadal out of the game and under the knife this past year, but it is expected that he will make a full recovery, including his back. Perhaps stem cell therapy could reach so far one day as to help patients recover from major surgeries, including appendectomies. Or maybe, this could already be the case.

 

Nadal is one of many pro athletes who have sought stem cell therapy for chronic joint pain and symptoms of arthritis. The procedure is gaining in popularity in the United States amongst NFL players, as well;

 

“Johnson is one of hundreds—yes, hundreds—of NFL players who have invested in the promise of stem cells in the past few years. Peyton Manning reportedly tried a stem-cell treatment in Europe in 2011, his final year with the Colts, to fast-  track his recovery from neck surgery. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara had a slow-healing broken metatarsal treated with stem cells by a foot specialist in North Carolina after his team’s Super Bowl XLVI run.”

(from Jenny Vrentas at MMQB.)

 

The effectiveness of stem cell therapy in athletes has undergone quite a bit of study, resulting in quite a few positive results. As the treatment gains in popularity among athletes, it is hopeful that the stigma attached to the treatment will wane, and the success stories will only lead to further interest in the practice.

 

Sources:

 

MMQB

Pub Med – US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health

South Point Medical

The Guardian

The Daily Beast

The Telegraph

www.oarsijournal.com