Sep 8, 2020 at 12:09 pm #3675236John “Jay” MennaBPL Member
I mentioned that I had stem cells put into my 58-year-old knees a little while back and I’ve gotten a lot of private messages and questions about it so I thought I would let as many details as I can here. I am rather tongue in cheek placing this in the gear forum as it is replacing worn parts on very critical gear…
First of all by way of profession I must tell you that I spent 20 years in the medical malpractice insurance business. A good percentage of my practice involves covering clinical trials. As you can imagine I’ve seen a number of very ‘interesting’ things and my quack radar has become highly highly sensitive. If you Google stem cells you will see a lot of quacks pushing the miracle cure of stem cells. From cancer to autism.
I am not going to get into the medicine behind the stem cell procedures, I simply don’t have the medical depth to ethically represent this.
In July 2019, I hiked the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine. I knew that arthritis was really nipping at my knees before the hike began. And I became a bit overly dependent on Meloxicam to keep things from going bad. But by mile 70 at the hundred mile wilderness my knees were shot. I had to goose-step the last 30 miles.
Upon my return I consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who suggested that it was time to get my knees replaced. I did not like the sound of that. Through the grapevine I heard that a number of late stage clinical studies are being done with stem cells on knees. Most of the safety studies it already been done and what remain was to determine with the efficacy of various methods. There are lots of competing things out there from where they harvest the stem cells to how they apply them into how often they apply them. As far as I can tell, they simply haven’t done enough of them to know what is the most effective course of treatment. There is however highly strong indications that the stem cells are in fact very effective against arthritic knees.
Knowing, despite the fact that I had to sign the clinical trial consent papers that used big scary words like “death’, that I was highly unlikely to come out harmed, and that the probable downside was that the stem cells were just going to be a waste of a few thousand dollars without any real effect. I decided that I’d rather spend the money and have nothing happen just to see if I could avoid replacing the knees completely.
In my case the procedure involved umbilical scored derived stem cells injected directly into the knees on a single occasion. I cannot comment, nor do I believe there’s enough body of data for anyone to be able to say where the best place to harvest the cells is.
The results: Wonderful! It was like a magic potion out of Hogwarts. Within 90 days I have done 10 miles in the Devils River area. No pain but I could feel that they were a bit weak. In the preceding nine months I have done three pretty good hikes. Big Bends Outer Mountain Loop, the Eagle Rock Loop in Arkansas and last week a good hike in the Gila national forest. Each time my knees become stronger and stronger.
It is interesting to note that on the first day of each of the hikes I feel some weakness and slight pain in the knees. It’s odd, and I can’t explain it, but it is almost as if the pain is signaling where the work needs to be done and by the third day my knees feel like they have been worked on.
I will note though that the geometry of my gate has changed a bit. Probably because the knee has been degrading over so many years and there was a week or so where my back got so out of whack I had to sleep on the wooden flood at home to keep it stable. This passed.
As of this moment I will be just under 10 months out. I’m ready to tackle some pretty damn remote trails in Greenland. Bucket list stuff. Without fear that I’m going to have issues getting to the other end.
Do not feel they are strong enough to resume downhill skiing, or running marathons. I’m too damn slow to chase a tennis ball anymore, so I guess that’s out too.
I cannot tell you if the procedure is ready for prime time. I think the clinicians are just figuring out now what is the most effective way to administer these things as opposed to lesser efficacy. But in my case I could not be happier. My case has been documented in the Texas medical Association journal Texas medicine. I am “JM from Travis County. Male 57”
Hope this information is useful for you..Sep 8, 2020 at 12:16 pm #3675239GumboBPL Member
@redgumLocale: Aussie in exile in the PNW
Awesome to hear this worked so well for you, Jay, and that it’s enabled you to get back on the trail.Sep 8, 2020 at 12:26 pm #3675243idesterBPL Member
@doug-iLocale: The Cascades
Thanks for sharing this Jay. Very much appreciated.Sep 8, 2020 at 12:48 pm #3675244d kBPL Member
Thanks, Jay, I was just rereading your earlier post yesterday and wondering how things were going for you and your knees. That’s wonderful news.Sep 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm #3675245jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Crap I jsut lost my entire post.
anyway, I had a total knee replacement on my right knee and it’s great. Stem cell therapy that could regrow destroyed meniscus would be better still. I was down to bone on bone and absolutely nothing other than the TKR or possibly stem cells would work. “Arthritis” is what the doctors called my bones rubbing together.Sep 8, 2020 at 1:18 pm #3675247W I S N E R !BPL Member
I’m 44. I tore my left ACL skateboarding 3 years ago. In the MRI I was informed that the same knee is close to bone on bone (again, likely thanks to a lifetime of skateboarding)…they presume the right is just as bad.
The ortho said he looked forward to seeing me for knee replacements in the coming 5-10 years. Thanks for sharing, I will certainly ask about this as an alternative and possible preventative treatment before a they’re too far gone.Sep 14, 2020 at 4:46 pm #3676099Brad WBPL Member
Have you had before/after imaging done to see if cartilage/tissue regenerated?Sep 14, 2020 at 7:13 pm #3676119jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Brad: good question.
“I’m 44. I tore my left ACL skateboarding 3 years ago. In the MRI I was informed that the same knee is close to bone on bone (again, likely thanks to a lifetime of skateboarding)…they presume the right is just as bad.”
I wonder about the right. Could be! but maybe tearing the ACL on your left leg led to your favoring that leg, and resulted in a slightly imbalanced stride. Maybe you stand straight on your right leg, and askew on your left.
Are your legs of equal length? How are your feet? Your hips? If you ‘lean in” towards one side, that can cause abrading of the meniscus on one knee, but not the other.
My friend’s doctor used a sonogram to look at the soft tissue in her sore knee. My doctors only wanted to use x rays. X rays don’t show soft tissue–i.e. meniscus tissue. I finally managed to get an MRI of my right knee. It merely showed what everyone knew: I had no more meniscus. Once that’s gone, it’s game over.
Having a sonogram didn’t occur to me. maybe that would be quick, easy, informative and cheap. But maybe there are limits I don’t know about.
I don’t necessarily see how skateboarding would wreck your meniscus, but I’m entirely a layman. I do see how backpacking might wear down the meniscus in one or both knees.Sep 14, 2020 at 7:51 pm #3676128Edward John MBPL Member
Impact of any type has consequences.
Continuous small impacts may have the same long term effects as a few bigger ones.
This thread has made me think about investigating this treatment here as my own knees are slowly giving me currySep 15, 2020 at 12:55 am #3676155Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
It was great of you to share a good outcome with this procedure. Like you, I was somewhat leery of it being a scam; however, the “reduced” price of $12000 for one stick per knee made a knee replacement paid by insurance the only option, and that ended that.
Was going to have one knee replaced this year, but the virus occasioned three postponements, so just to stay mobile, tried a process called PRP (Plasma Rich Platelets), that is said to encourage our own bodies to produce stem cells. And it was only a fraction of the cost.
It certainly was not as remarkable as your outcomes; but was enough to hold me over for a while when I had gotten to the point when Hyaluronic acid compounds (Synvisc, Orthovisc etc.) would no longer help. In evaluating these novel treatments, I think one has to watch closely for a possible placebo effect; but the savant who said “know thyself’ may have been pulling our legs, given human nature.
I did find one Doc who is recoating areas of lost cartilage, but only where the areas are in only a small part of the knee, and certainly not in all three compartments. Some day they will be able to implant artificial cartilage; but haven’t heard any reports that day is near.Sep 15, 2020 at 9:05 am #3676167W I S N E R !BPL Member
I don’t necessarily see how skateboarding would wreck your meniscus, but I’m entirely a layman. I do see how backpacking might wear down the meniscus in one or both knees.
Ummm…Skateboarding vs. Backpacking? Go to 1:47…Sep 15, 2020 at 9:30 am #3676169John “Jay” MennaBPL Member
My situation was rather unique. So the going costs may be a little skewed in favor of cheap. I had to separately purchase the stem cells from a laboratory in San Antonio Texas and have them shipped on dry ice to my doctors office in Austin. Basically the stem cells were FOB San Antonio. If they didn’t make it to my doctors office well I still have to pay for them.
I paid $1000 for the sales and another $2500 for the procedure. Then of course there’s all the follow up visits and physical therapy visits that are 250 bucks here and 500 bucks there. All and I think I’m into it for $5000(?). Perhaps a little less.
I’m told that imaging the knees is not accurate enough to actually see regeneration of cartilage. And whenever I said “hey the cartlidge has been regenerated”, everybody involved said” you can’t prove that.”. But everyone also says it’s likely that some of the Cartlidge has regenerated.
The cells I used were derived from umbilical cords. There’s lots of arguments either way about which is better. Umbilical derived, or extracting them from your own body. There’s arguments on either side. As of a year ago I could not find any data that addressed the issue one way or another. Probably simply because the data does not yet exist. Not enough clinical trials have been done. And that’s why I was part of a clinical trial.Sep 18, 2020 at 3:31 pm #3676703d kBPL Member
@dkramalcSep 19, 2020 at 1:16 am #3676770GumboBPL Member
@redgumLocale: Aussie in exile in the PNW
Wow, looks very promising. Wonder how many years we’ll have to wait…
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