What Is Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. In living tissue, the main purpose of adult stem cells is to use cell division to repair and replace dying cells in order to regenerate damaged tissue. As we age our stem cells become less active, less numerous, or both.
Stem cells can be stimulated with concentrated growth factors in platelet rich plasma (PRP) from a patient’s own blood. Stem cells are the “engineer” or “builder” cells that can help repair damaged structures. Each year millions of Americans suffer from musculoskeletal and arthritis pain. While some people get better over time, a significant number progress to chronic pain.
The causes of musculoskeletal pain are numerous. Cartilage in joints can be damaged from trauma, an imbalance in the supporting structures causing compensation and accelerated overuse, or normal degenerative wear and tear with age. Muscles and tendons can be damaged in similar ways. Acute injuries can damage tissue, which can lead to scar tissue and chronic weakness of that body part. Surgery can become complicated or not effective. The general indication for PRP and stem cell procedures is for injury of connective tissue or cartilage which has not responded to the usual pattern of medical intervention.
The benefits of regenerative stem cell and PRP procedures are primarily to reduce pain and increase function. Candidates also seek alternative treatments to surgery, which is not always successful, and has it’s own inherent risks, costs, and recuperation time. Patients are able to feel younger, continue to function and perform activities that they are used to, and not worry about a long recuperation or rehabilitation period.
Cortisone or steroid injections are sometimes useful, but chronic and repetitive cortisone injections can actually weaken and damage joint structures. The use of opiate and/or anti-inflammatory medications is usually reduced because of decreased pain. The inherent risks, costs, and complications with long term use of these medications is then decreased or removed.
Our procedures are done on an outpatient basis under fluoroscopic or ultrasound guidance. There is usually only minimal discomfort that is easily controlled with local anesthesia. There are no astronomical hospital or surgical bills, scheduling can be done within a few days and the procedure usually lasts an hour and patients return home to normal “light duty” activities immediately.
Exercise and/or physical therapy should usually start within a week. Every patient is different so consult with Dr. Alea for the exact instructions. The general response rate is that 85% of patients receive significant(at least 50%) pain relief. Subsequent hyaluronic acid “joint lubricant” treatments such as Hyalgan, Orthovisc, Synvisc, etc are more effective after stem cells are active inside the joints. Stem cells and PRP have also been shown to strengthen joints or ligaments intraoperatively and postoperatively by decreasing the amount of scar tissue that forms after surgery.
There is no allergy or rejection because the stem cells and PRP are from the patient’s own body. No negative long-term effects to this procedure have been reported. Dr. Alea does not harvest embryonic stem cells and is therefore not related to any controversial debates or other risks. Stem Cell procedures are not FDA approved.
However, our procedure is compliant within the guidelines listed in the FDA Code of Federal Regulations 21 Part 1271. Modern medicine in the US and throughout the world has been using stem cell transplant techniques such as bone marrow transplants to help treat patients with diseases such as leukemia, aplastic anemia, and certain inherited blood conditions for over 40 years. Bone marrow transplants are also not FDA approved, but they are also in compliance with CF21 Part 1271(121.15.b).
About Dr. Todd Alea M.D.
Dr Alea was raised in south Florida. After finishing his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Baylor College of Medicine, he chose to seek an additional year of training and become Board Certified in the sub-specialty of Pain Medicine at the Indiana University Medical School/IUPUI in Indianapolis Department of Anesthesiology.
Dr. Alea has been practicing minimally invasive interventional pain management since 2003.He then relocated back to south Florida to rejoin his family and start his career in private practice.
Dr Alea enjoys multiple athletic activities and anything outdoors, including boating and fishing. He enjoyed playing amateur baseball at a high level until the age of 40. His athletic career caused excessive wear and tear on his body, causing multiple injuries and chronic degenerative changes.
He employs many of the same treatments on himself as he recommends for his patients.
- Board Certified American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (2004-2014)
- Board Certified Subspecialty in Pain Medicine (2005-2015)
Professional memberships include
- American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR)
- Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (FSIPP))
- American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM))
- International Spine Intervention Society (ISIS))