PRACTICAL REGENERATIVE SPORTS MEDICINE: Stem Cells and Healing of a Rotator Cuff Tear (RCT) of the Shoulder
PRACTICAL REGENERATIVE SPORTS MEDICINE: A recent long-term study from France demonstrates the powerful healing potential of a patient’s own stem cells in sports medicine.
In a matched control study with patients undergoing surgical shoulder rotator cuff repair for symtomatic rotator cuff tears (RCTs), those patients that had their own bone marrow – derived stem cells added to the repair site, healed better by one-third at six months than those treated with traditional surgical repair alone. In fact, all (100%) of the patients with added stem cells were healed by MRI at six months, compared to only two-thirds without the patient’s added biologic cells.
Likewise, those patients also did better at 10 years after surgery: only 15% of the MSC-treated patients had re-torn, compared to almost half (45%) of the traditional (control) group.
This important and powerful study by Dr. P. Hernigou of Paris, France, is the first to really show both short- and long-term improvement of a surgical procedure with the addition of regenerative medicine techniques.
Having performed many rotator cuff repairs over his 25+ years in practice, Dr. Kelly Cunningham of Austin Ortho+Biologics has now used this refined technique for many of his surgical repair patients, utilizing a “no-incision” (arthroscopic) technique, and has discovered that not only does excellent healing occur, the patient has significantly less pain than after surgery than in the past.
Surgical methods for shoulder repair have improved greatly, but repeat cuff tears and the subsequent pain leading to a second surgery is a problem that continues to plague sports medicine, especially in mature athletes.
Now, there appears to be an option to enhance a surgical repair, using the principles of OrthoBiologics and cellular regenerative medicine, to significantly reduce the chance of future surgery. This can help athletes to continue with their pursuits for many additional years.
Surgery is still the best option for complete or high-grade partial RCTs. However, the future is bright for non-surgical use of stem cells in the shoulder, as evidenced by successful injections of stem cells and PRP to control symptoms and restore function in active patients with arthritis, stable labral tears, and smaller partial RCTs.
If interested, check out the in depth section of this website to view this and other groundbreaking studies that demonstrate the innovative sports medicine techniques utilizing orthobiologics that are offered by Dr. Kelly Cunningham.