Stem Cells

Dr. Bright believes you shoud NOT get stem cells for orthopedic treatment.

Stem cells are primitive cells that we have in our body that can turn into new cells that we need, such as new blood cells.  Physicians can obtain stem cells from patient's bone marrow or abdominal fat, or from someone else (typically from umbilical cord tissue from a fertility clinic).  Stem cells have been successfully used to treat children with bone marrow disease or blood cancers.  Research has been and is currently being performed to use stem cells in orthopedics to regenerate our cartilage or ligaments or bones, but as yet it has NOT been proven to be successful and remains experimental.  The potential for severe adverse side effects exists and have occurred with stem cell treatments: more than a dozen patients have developed severe infections from stem cell treatment, and a child developed a nasal tissue growth in their spine, and 3 patients went blind.  The FDA restricts the use of stem cells to children with cancer or blood disorders, but has a loop hole that allows physicians to do research on stem cells in patients who do not have cancer or a blood disorder.  The FDA webiste has sent cease and desist letters to more than 20 stem cell centers in 2018, and another more than 20 letters in 2019.  The FDA website also has a warning to patients that they should not receive stem cells for orthopedic conditions since they may be unsafe.  The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons also warns against receiving stem cell treatments.  Medicare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, AETNA, and all insurance companies refuse to pay for stem cells to treat orthopedic conditions because there is no convincing evidence that they are effective. 

Despite these warnings, many physicians continue to advertise about stem cell treatments.  The treatments are typically very expensive, and usually cost several thousand dollars.  Some patients believe that stem cells have helped treat them, but it is important to note that placebo treatments also help.  Patients with arthritis that are given placebo pills have improvements in pain and stiffness and function 60% of the time. Patients with arthritis who are given a placebo injection improve pain and stiffness and function 70% of the time.  When patients are given a more expensive placebo, then they improve even more than 70% of the time.  

The treatments that Dr. Bright provides ALL have been proven to be more successful than placebo (unlike stem cells), and are all covered by your insurance.