As a physician, I love receiving and hearing stories of my patients doing well. It is particularly exciting when it’s from a patient with a severe problem for which our expectations were low who did really well from the treatment. I would like to tell a story about one such patient that I treated here at our Regenexx-licensed Grand Cayman Clinic. 

First, I am just grateful to be a visiting physician coming down to Grand Cayman to be able to offer the world’s most advanced autologous cultured mesenchymal stem cell procedure in the world. In the U.S., cultured cells are considered a drug and are regulated as such. Drug trials are cost prohibitive for most clinics, and it is hard for Big Pharma to want to invest in that as they do not get as much return on their investment since this is actually not a drug. So, down in Grand Cayman, their FDA equivalent allows us to do this procedure with us collecting ongoing data and research on the safety and efficacy of the procedure, which we do for all our treatments here. I am usually here 3 to 4 times a year, treating patients from all over the world for various orthopedic conditions to help them avoid surgery, get out of pain, and return to function and the things that they love to do. Regenexx-C treatment works particularly well for people that have multiple joints that require stem cell treatment, who have smaller joints with severe arthritis, hip arthritis, and particularly well for disk annular tears and disk bulging that could be causing some pain or nerve irritation. 

The patient in this blog, I saw about 8 years ago. Her main issue was severe hip arthritis. She was in her early 50s, so she was pretty young, and she was told she needed a hip replacement. The patient did not want to proceed with hip replacement, as she wanted to try to preserve her hip. Given her age, she knows she would likely need a revision as hip replacements can potentially last 15 to 25 years, and she did not want to undergo the risks of surgery. In addition, she had several allergies that have been shown to increase the risk of an allergic reaction to the metals or plastic used in hip replacement surgery. Even still, she had severe hip arthritis, which we know is a poor candidate for stem cell treatment, meaning the chances of success are going to be pretty low. We told her this up front, but for the reasons above, she wanted to proceed with the treatment as this would be her only hope. Thus, she came down to Cayman for one trip for a full evaluation, procedure planning, and bone marrow aspiration. Then, she returned after her cells were cultured and safety tested, where she had the hip precisely injected under image guidance with mesenchymal stem cells into the hip joint and affected tendons and ligaments directly. 

Surprisingly, at the follow-up a few months later, she was doing very well. She had a 50% improvement in her pain and function, and she had some improvements in range of motion. Prior to the treatment, she had to walk with a cane or walk with a limp; she could barely get around. Afterward, she was able to walk around with just a minor limp, and had far less pain, and could do much more activity. She also had multiple other joints for which she decided that she needed treatment. They were not as severe as the hip, but she had arthritis pain and instability in her neck, ankle, elbow, and knee. We treated those and repeated treatment on the left hip. All of those joints did very well, as expected, and the left hip improved even more after a second treatment. 

She was doing well for 7 to 8 years before reaching out again, just starting to get some return of some hip pain, not as severe as it was before, but it was limiting her walking tolerance. She also had some lumbar stenosis, causing some nerve irritation that was also limiting her walking and affecting her hip muscle stability, as well as some return of some minor neck pain. So, she came back recently to have those areas evaluated and treated. Thus far, she has avoided several surgeries, including hip replacement, knee arthroscopic surgery or potential replacement, and potential cervical fusion, and so she is hoping to avoid lumbar spinal stenosis surgery. The patient is extremely pleased and happy with her previous results and her care. We will follow up again soon to see how she did after this last round of therapy. 

This is just a great example of how autologous cultured mesenchymal stem cells can be used to treat a variety of orthopedic injuries and help avoid surgery. However, they must be used properly. This means that they must be cultured in a safe, clean, and effective way to maintain the viability of the cells. They must be placed directly into the area of injury under precise ultrasound and/or x-ray image guidance. Furthermore, we have to have the appropriate diagnoses to make sure we are treating the correct areas with a thorough evaluation, all of which we do here at Regenexx Cayman. We are always upfront and honest about real-life results, as there is no medical procedure that is 100% helpful for everybody. There are good, fair, and poor candidates for the procedure, and some patients should not proceed at all with this type of treatment, so we let you know that up front. But even for some candidates who are deemed poor candidates and decide to go through treatment, every once in a while, we can be surprised and get amazing results, better than we even expected. 

I am very grateful to have this type of career where I can help so many people. Thank you to the Regenexx Cayman team for allowing me to practice on such a sophisticated and wonderful island.

Written by Dr. John Pitts

To find out more about Regenexx-C, speak to our patient care team on 1-877-211-3834 (U.S. Toll-free), 1-345-943-5900 (Cayman), or by email at [email protected].


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