Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) are a type of adult stem cell that eventually develop into cells that make up our bones, muscles, nerves, adipose tissue among other things in our body. They are vitally important to our development from fetuses to adults. Not only are the MSC important in our development, but they also are responsible for the maintenance of our adult structure. In addition, MSC may be revolutionary in the treatment of shoulder pain.MSC’s serve as the building blocks of our muscles, nerves, bones, and fat while also secreting important molecules that build, maintain, and promote healing after injury to those structures. These molecules, such as TGF Beta and IL10 both inhibit the inflammatory response to injury and promotes healing of the area. The combination of using our own building blocks of cells and what they secrete serves as tremendous innovative treatment for previously difficult to treat musculoskeletal injuries.
MSC can be gathered from a person’s own tissue, such as excess adipose (fatty) or bone marrow. They fall under the category of “Adult” stem cells. They are not embryonic stem cells. Federal law requires the cells to only be minimally manipulated, ensuring that the cells undergo very little change once removed from the body.
Animal model testing has allowed clinical researchers to expand our uses of MSC’s in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. Currently, MSC’s cannot be used in humans if they are more than minimally manipulated and spend an extended amount of time outside the body, which limits potential uses of MSC in treatment. However, using animal models to research the use of MSC’s allows researchers to find and prove other uses for MSC’s so they can one day be used in people. In more extensive research using animal models, MSC’s have proven to have dramatic effects on several types of musculoskeletal injuries.
In limited clinical research on humans, they have shown to promote the growth of cartilage and bones in the setting of osteoarthritis (OA). Use of MSC’s in patients with knee OA has shown to have decreased pain after 6 months as well as increased meniscal and cartilaginous volume in the knee compared to standard conservative treatments. Osteoarthritis, an irreversible disease process in our country, can potentially be alleviated without the use of heavy NSAID use or joint replacement surgery. With further studies in animal models and clinical trials, the practice of using MSC’s as a staple of treatment for musculoskeletal disease will only grow.
While research is still being conducted on the ever growing usage of MSC, those suffering from musculoskeletal diseases can still undergo this therapy today. Specifically, in the shoulder joint, we have the ability to treat OA and rotator cuff tendon damage with MSC’s. One of the larger studies specifically showed the dramatic success of the MSC treatment in the healing of shoulder OA and rotator cuff tendinopathies. This treatment protocol will allow you as the patient to potentially delay or totally avoid surgery. MSC’s can also be used in conjunction with rotator cuff repair surgery to promote the complete healing of the tendon. In the treatment of OA, a patient can reasonably expect slowing and possible reversal of the degenerative process, allowing them to be uninhibited by their shoulder in their future endeavors.
Patients seeking a more conservative treatment plan with little to no adverse effects should consider speaking with their physician about MSC injection. Here at Restore Orthopedics, you can schedule an appointment to discuss this option with Dr. Mora and Dr. Chang at (714) 598-1745.