A skiing accident tore my ACL (of the major knee stabilizers), partially damaged MCL and menisci in February 2014. It was a super cold and stormy day. There was no one to pick me up from the crime scene. So, I stayed locked in my boot in terrible pain for hours. Until a friend gave me a lift to the hospital. As a result, I got a nasty blood clot. Interestingly, the worst of the injuries saved me from surgery and on towards the Regenexx stem cell joinery.
I had my consultation with Dr. John Schultz in January 2016. The exam was not your typical 20 minutes look at the problem of prescribing a surgery or a pill. Dr. John Schultz took a very holistic approach. I was asked about my nutrition. He looked at the alignment of my spine. He also found instability in my left ankle (none of the doctors have seen it before). As a result, Dr. John Schultz gave me a 50% to 60% success rate based on all the factors. Unfortunately, I waited for six months as my ACL deteriorated some more. However, a 50% success rate is a pretty good chance in my book. I am approaching my 8th-week post stem cells procedure as I am writing this blog. I believe that my ACL is growing, and my story will be another success story!
Stem Cells Procedure Overview.
Your own stem cells are used for the Regenexx ACL regenerative procedure to repair the damaged ACL in conjunction with blood platelet treatment. Stem cells are taken from your bone marrow. Your own body renews these cells and turns them into other cells. Stem cells live inside all of us in various tissues. So naturally, they act to repair damage when it occurs. Regenexx Stem Cell Procedures extracts your stem cells from high volume, concentrating them and re-injecting them into the damaged area. Thus, it helps your body to heal naturally. The main stem cell procedure is the same-day procedure. The Regenexx clinic in Broomfield started with clinical trials sometime in 2005. Since that time, Regenexx has performed more of these procedures than any other clinic or medical group. The same-day procedure currently performed in the United States was developed in 2010 and has been continually improved. Your stem cells are harvested and re-injected on the same day. However, my protocol, like most patients, was actually a series of injections that happen over the course of about a week as follows:
My Stem Cells Protocol.
This is a multi-day procudure. It starts with a prolo-theraphy to the knee to cause your body to think that the knee has been injured. This causes red blood cells to rush to that area so that the body can begin healing itself. Also, this inflates your ligaments, helping the doctor with pressie injections. It a little painful but tolerated.
1) Day 1 – Tuesday: PRP draw. Blood from my arm vein was drawn to be spun down to get the platelets. Not painful at all.
2) Day 2 – Wednesday: main procedure.
- 9:00 AM – Dr John Schultz thoroughly numbed the back of my hip and took a bone marrow sample through a needle. This procedure is called a bone marrow aspirate. It is different than a bone marrow biopsy, which can be painful. The bone marrow aspiration process is often described by patients as being comfortable for most of the people, but it was pretty painful for me. Doc and the assistant were both super nice and attentive. I took some volume, but it didn’t help much. The best part in a few hours time the pain was gone.
- I had about 4 hour break while my cells were being processed by a Lab Technician.
- 3:00 PM – at the second part of the procedure Dr John Schultz will re-injected my stem cells and natural growth factors from my blood platelets using advanced imaging guidance into the area in need of repair (real time fluoroscopy or musculoskeletal ultrasound, using my MRI to plan the injection). This method allowed the doctor to pinpoint the exact location of the injection, as well as the dispersion of the cells into the tissues.
- It was painful.
3) Day 3 – Friday: Knee injection with the platelets to encourage healing.
- No painful at all.
I used crutches and was taking painkillers prescribed by Doc on Saturday. Pain and swelling subsided on Sunday. Over the next eight weeks, I’ve been doing PT guided by Mark. I wore a brace at all times but took it off during sleep. I’ve been walking in the pool as well. Currently, I am slowly transitioning into the “no-brace” second stage of healing. I am continuing my PT (more balancing and weight-bearing exercises) with Mark and pool jugging. Most excitingly, I went for a 40-minute hike with my dog a few days ago!
The Alternative to Stem Cells Procedure
Is a surgical option. Recent research has shown that some of the most popular arthroscopic surgeries have no benefit at all. It can be traumatic and carries risks of toxic wear particles entering the bloodstream. Surgical risks aside, all surgeries minimally require months of painful rehab to regain strength and mobility. Surgeries also accelerate the cascade of degeneration that leads to osteoarthritis. Surgery is sometimes the obvious solution for severe cases. Stem cells cannot treat everything. I would recommend any friend or family research the Regenexx stem cell procedure as an alternative to surgery. I’ve spent way too much time researching and reading about the procedure.
There are many pros of the stem cell procedure, to name a few: quicker healing, return to play, fewer risks of infection, no general anesthesia.
The cons are that the procedure doesn’t always work, and it takes about six months to check the MRI for the average patient. In addition, the procedure is not covered by insurance.
In conclusion, I’m giving the Centeno Schultz Clinic staff and Dr. Schultz five-plus stars. The medical assistants and the rest of the staff do an outstanding job with their procedures and communications. Scheduling my appointments and communicating with me via email additional five starts. Dr. Schultz answered all my questions via email within a day. I feel very fortunate to have been seed by Dr. John Schultz. He is a caring and fun energy. Finally, I highly recommend Mark, the PT. He is amazing!
2021 Update: all healed!