Stem Cells in Sports Injuries, Joint and Muscular Pain

Athletes and other physically active people now have a new health option: stem cell therapy for sports injuries.

Regardless of age, countless patients suffer from joint and muscle injuries due to professional or amateur sport activities, such as muscle tears, torn rotator cuff, tennis elbow, and knee injuries. Throughout life these types of injuries can occur and constitute a severe problem for functional disability and pain.

Conventional medicine for joint and muscular pain includes the use of pain-killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids or local medication. These treatments all come with side effects such as gastritis, gastrointestinal bleeding, renal or hematologic toxicity, yet do not solve the issue at hand.

Within the past decade, the use of stem cells for sports injuries has increased. According to the article, Emerging Applications of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine to Sports Injuries by Ajibade et al, “Cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine offer safe and potentially efficacious treatment for sports-related musculoskeletal injuries.

Why stem cells for sports injuries?

Due to many reasons, as we age, our body does not have the natural ability to repair itself. Following trauma or injury, the body immediately tries to repair itself, yet the majority of these sports injuries occur in cells or tissue that have very limited regenerative capabilities.

Cells from the immune system, biochemical substances and molecules are released into the blood stream to clean the area from the dead cells’ debris, bring other cells to repopulate the zone, regenerate the tissue and finally, make a scar.

Throughout this long process there would be pain, not only due to the lesion itself (i.e.: an ankle sprain), but also due to the inflammation that is launched to heal the damage.

Stem cell therapy  may address all these concerns. First, stem cells have properties that can control inflammation (immunoregulation). Second, they release growth factors that can stimulate the production of other cells needed to repair the tissue (wound healing). Third, they can increase vasculature (blood flow) to the area, which increases healing. Finally, they may replace damaged cells. While stem cells are not analgesics, they may soothe joint and muscle pain by acting on the causes that provoke it. Therefore, a symptom, such as pain, is controlled by treating the cause directly.

How are they applied?

For sports injuries, stem cell procedures are usually performed under local anesthesia that may be complemented by a light sedation according to the patient’s condition. The majority of these procedures are ambulatory, which means that patients are usually discharged the same day. The stem cells are normally directly injected into the targeted areas. In cases such as osteoarthritis this may avoid the need for a joint replacement.

ReHealth Regenerative Therapies

Each case is thoroughly analyzed by our team of regenerative medicine professionals at Rehealth. Let us evaluate your case and determine if you are a candidate for our stem cell therapy.

Regenerative Medicine Scientist Speaks about Arthritis at A4M

Rafael Gonzalez, PhD, the head of Research and Development Department and a staff member of Rehealth, was invited to present at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine Conference in Orlando on May 17, 2014. With over 12 years of experience, Dr. Gonzalez has become a key opinion leader in the biomedical industry and has expansive knowledge on the behavior of stem cells and stem cell-based regenerative medicine in arthritis. His research includes clinical stem cell applications for multiple diseases,  degenerative disorders and research on the behavior of stem cell cultures and cell biology from several development stages.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, also known as A4M, is a well respected non-profit organization that is dedicated to the advancement of technology in detecting, preventing and treating aging related diseases and promoting research in the aging process.  A4M holds one of the largest conferences bi-annually on anti-aging, and regenerative and aesthetic medicine. This year, Dr. Gonzalez was afforded  the opportunity to present as a key note speaker on the use of mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of arthritis. Below is an abstract of his presentation.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Treatment of Arthritis:  Translation From Clinical Research to Standard of Care in Clinical Practice

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), musculoskeletal disease is the most common cause of severe long-term pain and disability. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports one in five adults in the United States  having doctor-diagnosed arthritis.  By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.  Current treatments for these conditions are limited in that they merely treat the symptoms of the condition, rather than addressing prevention or cure.  Additionally, many systemic remedies have undesirable gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic, and cardiac side effects.

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both possess inflammatory and immunological involvement, which makes treatment confounding.  Mesenchymal stem cells are non-hematopoietic progenitor cells isolated from adult tissues that possess immunosuppression and anti-inflammatory effects.  Mesenchymal stem cells possess the ability to differentiate into osteoblasts (bone), adipocytes (fat), and chrondrocytes (cartilage).  Additionally, they aid in tissue regeneration in two ways.  First, mesenchymal cells secrete growth factors (transforming growth factor-beta, insulin-like growth factors, fibroblast growth factors, platelet-derived growth factors, and Wnts), which exert trophic effects on surrounding cells.  Second, they have the ability to coordinate tandem differentiation with differentiated and undifferentiated host cells.  These combined characteristics make mesenchymal stem cells an attractive therapeutic option for the treatment of arthritis.

The purpose of this presentation is to translate the research literature, protocols, and procedures into reproducible results that can be used in-office to effectively treat arthritic conditions.  A comprehensive review of the literature and research to date on the use of autologous adipose-derived and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells at the point of care utilizing the stromal vascular fraction for the treatment of arthritis will be provided.  The use of autologous mesenchymal culture expanded cells (bone marrow and adipose derived) in the treatment of osteoarthritis will be reviewed, as well as the use of allogeneic mesenchymal cells in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis treatments. Finally, the prospect of cryopreservation, cell banking, and culture expansion of mesenchymal stem cells will  be discussed.


Rehealth offers high-quality cellular therapy for many diseases. Find out if you’re a candidate for our stem cell therapies.