What is the Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is composed of four muscle-tendon units that attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone. This structure is responsible for providing strength and stability to the shoulder joint when it is in motion, as well as allows overhead movements of the arm.
When one of these units experiences a tear from an acute injury, such as a fall or direct hit to the shoulder, or from the natural aging process, individuals often experience pain, loss of stability and decreased range of motion.
What is Stem Cell Rotator Cuff Repair?
In cases that involve a partial rotator cuff tear, Dr. Provencher may recommend a stem cell rotator cuff repair after patients have exhausted conservative, non-surgical treatment options with no symptom relief. Stem cell therapy for rotator cuff tears uses a patient’s own adult stem cells found naturally in their bone marrow to help accelerate healing and promote tissue regeneration.
Patients undergoing adult stem cell therapy for rotator cuff tears should not be concerned with the ethical considerations associated with embryonic and fetal stem cells. Since this form of regenerative medicine uses a patient’s own autologous stem cells, the risk of immune rejection, infection and disease transmission is eliminated.
How is Stem Cell Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tears Performed?
Dr. Provencher begins stem cell therapy for rotator cuff tears by harvesting a small sample of bone marrow directly from the patient. The sample is usually drawn from the pelvis area. Once the bone marrow is collected, it is spun in a special machine known as a centrifuge to separate the adult stem cells, platelets, plasma and red blood cells. The adult stem cells, plasma and platelets are then combined and injected directly into the injured rotator cuff to regenerate torn tissue and accelerate healing.
Patients under the age of 60 years can typically achieve tissue regeneration utilizing their body’s own adult stem cells. After the age of 60 when the body’s stem cells begin to naturally diminish, patients usually achieve better results utilizing a combination of platelet rich plasma (PRP) and/or amniotic-fluid derived allografts for accelerated healing, as well as an allograft for regeneration.
For additional resources on stem cell therapy for rotator cuff tears, or to determine if you are a candidate for a stem cell rotator cuff repair, please contact the orthopedic office of Dr. Matthew Provencher, serving patients in Denver, Vail and Aspen, Colorado.