Stem Cell Therapy FAQs from Colorado Clinic

Stem Cell Injections in Greeley, Loveland, Fort Collins, Fort Morgan, Longmont

A painful lower back or neck disc can cause severe suffering and considerable disability. For many patients with chronic back pain, regenerative therapies are now an option. In America, there are more than 400,000 lumbar discectomies and 500,000 spinal fusions performed every year. To delay surgery, stem cell injections are used.stem cells

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Found in many adult tissues, these cells stimulate the body’s healing processes, and permit regeneration of injured or damaged body structures. Stem cells can be derived from embryos, but the ones used for back problems are derived from the patient’s own bone marrow.

Why are stem cell injections given?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can lead to serious back pain. With this disorder, the intervertebral discs break down from age, wear-and-tear, and injury. This results in loss of height and integrity. When these disc loose water content, the spinal bones (vertebrae) do not align properly, sometimes pressing on spinal nerves. Approximately 25% of all adults suffer from lower back pain related to DDD. Stem cell injections can help this condition, as well as rotator cuff tears, injuries to ligaments, tendons, or muscles, and joint arthritis.

Who is a good candidate to receive stem cell therapy?

If you are interested in receiving a stem cell injection, the pain specialist will schedule you for a consultation. The procedure is optimal for those who:

  • Have minor tears of body tissues.
  • Only suffer from mild-moderate degenerative disease.
  • Are in good health.

What can I expect before the procedure?

If you are on blood-thinning agents, notify the doctor of this, as these must be held for several days beforehand. Arrange to have someone drive you home, as driving is not permitted for 24 hours following the injection. When you get to the medical center, a nurse goes over the risks and benefits of the stem cell injection, and has you sign a consent form. After you change into a hospital gown, monitoring devices are attached tbone marrow aspiration2o your arm and finger, and an IV catheter is inserted in your arm to administer fluids and medications.

What happens during the stem cell injection procedure?

The first step is to obtain the MSCs from your own bone marrow. You will be given a sedative, positioned on your side, and the skin over your hip is cleaned with an antiseptic. The doctor uses a local anesthetic to numb the skin first, and then inserts a needle into the bone to aspirate the marrow. The marrow is then sent to the laboratory for processing, which only takes a few minutes. The doctor will clean the skin over the affected body part and use an anesthetic to numb the skin there. Once the stem cells are brought from the laboratory, a needle is inserted into the site, and the cells are injected there.

What risks and side effects are associated with the procedure?

As with any minimally invasive procedure, a few complications should be considered. These include infection, bleeding, blood vessel injury, nerve damage, and pain at the injection sites. Expect to have soreness over the hip where the marrow is taken, as well as pain at the injection area. Side effects to the sedative include drowsiness, dry mouth, confusion, and dizziness. There is a slight risk of allergic reaction, which could be related to sedatives, latex, or surgical supplies and solutions.

Do stem cell injections work?

One recent clinical study found stem cell injection therapy to have a 90% efficacy rate. For knee arthritis, another research trial found these injections to reduce pain scores and improve joint range of motion. For rotator cuff tear, the procedure offers a 70% success rate, according to a 2014 clinical trial.

Can the Colorado pain management doctor administer stem cell injections to help me after surgery?

Stem cells are used to improve bone, tissue, and joint healing, so they are very useful following surgery. Discuss this option with your doctor, as these procedures are not yet covered by health insurance plans.

Colorado Clinic offers stem cell procedures at several locations with Board Certified pain doctors. This includes Greeley, Longmont, Fort Morgan, Buena Vista, Loveland. Call today!


Drazin D, Rosner J, Avalos, P, & Acosta F (2012). Stem cell therapy for degenerative disc disease. Regenerative Medicine, doi:  10.1155/2012/961052

Koh et al. (2013). Mesenchymal stem cell injections improve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.  Arthroscopy. 29(4): 748-755.

Pettine KA, Murphy MB, Suzuki RK, et al. (2014). Percutaneous injection of autologous bone marrow concentrate cells significantly reduces lumbar discogenic pain through 12 months. Stem Cells.

Vangsness CT, et al. (2014). Adult human mesenchymal stem cells delivered via intra-articular injection to the knee following partial medial meniscectomy: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 96(2):90-8.