STEM CELL THERAPY HAS A SHORTER RECOVERY TIME
During rotator cuff surgery, the doctor cuts, moves and sews tissues within the shoulder joint. As a result of the manipulation and trauma, the recovery time is quite long and it involves wearing an arm sling for a month or longer. Once this restrictive sling is removed, the arm still needs time to heal completely and it may take up to 6 months before function is fully restored.
This is a pretty long period since the shoulder joint is required for many essential movements of the arm and forearm like eating and dressing. In addition the loss of function can also translate into loss of income if a person misses weeks of work.
On the other hand, the recovery time for stem cell therapy is quite short since it is a minimally invasive procedure that does not traumatize the shoulder joint like an operation. This relatively simple treatment involves harvesting the regenerative stem cells and concentrating them before they are injected them into the injured shoulder.
These reinjected stem cells are the source of numerous growth factors which help accelerate the healing process and shorten the healing time. As a result, patients are usually able to resume activities within a few hours though a 48 hour rest period is recommended to avoid complications. Patients also report significant improvements of their movements and pain threshold within a few days.
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STEM CELL THERAPY HAS FEWER RISKS
Risks associated with rotator cuff surgery include infection, bleeding, blood clots and inadvertent damage to blood vessels and nerves. In addition, patients also have to contend with complications related to anesthesia like allergic reactions and breathing problems.
The biggest complication of stem cell therapy is infection. However, the fact that the stem cells injected into the shoulder are drawn from the patient’s body markedly reduces the risk of infections in stem cell therapy. The risk of bleeding is also minimal and that of anesthetic complications non-existent.
STEM CELL THERAPY IS MORE COST EFFECTIVE
Rotator cuff surgery is not cheap. The fair market price for this operation as quoted by the Healthcare Bluebook is around $6,000. This figure does not include hospital admission costs and it doubles if revision surgery is required.
The cost of stem cell treatment for the shoulder ranges from $5,000 to $6,500 depending on where it is performed. However, since it is an office procedure there are no additional hospital admission costs.
STEM CELL THERAPY IS OFTEN MORE SUCCESSFUL
Medical studies reveal that the failure rate of large rotator cuff repairs is 57%. This is an almost unacceptable rate especially for persons who rely on their shoulders for their livelihood like professional athletes.
The success rate for stem cell therapy for rotator cuff injuries is around 85%. The 15% failure rate of this treatment is a much better figure than the 57% of the operation.
Factors that contribute to the high failure rate of surgically repaired torn rotator cuffs include poor blood supply to the tendon and tendon degeneration. Stem cell therapy can ameliorate these problems since the injected stem cells can differentiate and regenerate all the tissues in the joint.
In addition, by growing and becoming specialized cells known as tenocytes, chondrocytes and osteoblasts which build the tendons, cartilage and bone respectively, stem cell therapy is also thought to help prevent rotator cuff tendon re-tears which occur in 20 – 90% of persons who have had rotator cuff surgery. By helping prevent them, stem cell treatment obviates the need for revision surgery to correct re-tear repairs and helps patients avoid another long recovery process. Injecting stem cells into the rotator tendons to be repaired is also thought to increase their fixation to the bones and possibly contribute to preventing re-tears.
Many athletes who have surgery to treat sport injuries never fully regain the performance level they had prior to the surgery. However, stem cell treatment helps restore full functionality of the shoulder joint. Studies even show that it improves the long-term durability of rotator cuff repairs.