Stem Cell Clinics Sell Bogus Cures for Knee Pain

Stem Cell Clinics Sell Bogus ‘Cures’ for Knee Pain

By Dennis Thompson | Featured on WebMD

Stem cell clinics are charging big money for knee arthritis “cures” and making extravagant claims about their therapies, a new study contends. A same-day injection for one knee costs thousands of dollars at these centers, according to a consumer survey taken of clinics across the United States.

People are paying that kind of cash because two-thirds of stem cell clinics promise that their treatments work 80 to 100 percent of the time, researchers report. But there’s no medical evidence suggesting that any stem cell therapy can provide a lasting cure for knee arthritis, said study lead researcher Dr. George Muschler, an orthopedic surgeon with the Cleveland Clinic.

“There are claims made about efficacy [effectiveness] that aren’t supported by the literature,” Muschler said. “There’s a risk of charlatanism, and patients should be aware.”Stem cells have gained a reputation as a miracle treatment and potential cure for many ailments. The cells have the potential to provide replacement cells for any part of the body — blood, brain, bones or organs. As a result, a wave of stem cell centers have opened up around the country, offering cures for a variety of diseases, Muschler said.

“It’s very sexy to market yourself as a stem cell center, so there’s been a boom of centers, probably close to 600 now in the United States offering this therapy,” Muschler said. “But the truth is that the medical literature hasn’t quite caught up to the enthusiasm in the marketplace.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed extreme skepticism over these centers, and in November the agency announced that it would crack down on clinics offering dangerous stem cell treatments. The “pie-in-the-sky” dream for knee arthritis patients is that a stem cell injection will produce fresh new protective cartilage in their joint, said Dr. Scott Rodeo, an orthopedic surgeon with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“The reality is they don’t do that. There is zero data to suggest that,” said Rodeo, who wasn’t involved with the study. “The idea these cells are going to regenerate cartilage — there’s zero data.”

At best, these injections might temporarily reduce pain and inflammation by prompting the release of soothing chemicals in the knee, Rodeo and Muschler said. To get an idea what stem cell centers are promising customers, Muschler and his colleagues called 273 U.S. clinics posing as a 57-year-old man with knee arthritis.The clinics were asked about same-day stem cell injections, how well they work and how much they cost. Of the 65 centers that provided pricing information, the average cost for a knee injection was $5,156, with prices ranging from $1,150 to $12,000, the researchers found. Fourteen centers charged less than $3,000 for a single injection, while 10 centers charged more than $8,000.

The 36 centers that provided information on effectiveness claimed an average effectiveness of 82 percent, the researchers said. Of them, 10 claimed that the injection worked 9 out of 10 times, and another 15 claimed 80 to 90 percent effectiveness. The findings were presented Tuesday at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ annual meeting, in New Orleans. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Patients are being told there’s an 80 percent likelihood of improvement, which is only 10 to 20 percent better than you’d expect from a placebo effect,” Muschler said. In fact, he suspects that the placebo effect is responsible for much of the improvement patients feel following a knee injection.

“People always show up to the doctor when they hurt,” Muschler said. “If I see a patient who has arthritis in their knee and I do nothing, there’s a very good chance they’re going to get better over the coming months, anyway. There’s this natural cycle of increasing and decreasing pain that’s present in the life of someone who has arthritis.”

That’s compounded by the fact that people expect to feel better after shelling out a load of cash, Muschler added. These centers generally provide three different types of treatment, only one of which actually has live stem cells involved, Muschler said.

One treatment injects the knee with platelet-rich plasma drawn from the patient’s own blood, while another uses a slurry produced from fetal tissue and fluid gathered after birth. Neither of these contains stem cells, but they are marketed as stem cell therapies, Muschler said.

A third option involves bone marrow taken from the patient and injected into the knee. This does contain a mixture of three types of stem cells, but “the evidence that you’re doing [your knees] a favor is still pretty weak in the literature,” Muschler said.People aren’t likely to be harmed by these injections, Rodeo said, but there’s not a lot of evidence that they’ll be helped. “Patients should go into it eyes wide open,” Rodeo said. “They’re paying a lot of money out of pocket, because these are not covered by insurers.” Knee arthritis sufferers would be better off trying many of the established options for reducing knee pain, Muschler and Rodeo said.

Losing weight is a “key factor,” Muschler said. “There’s very good evidence that if you are at a 5 on the pain scale and you lose 10 percent of your body weight, your pain will drop 2 points,” Muschler said. Patients also can use NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling, get a steroid injection, or perform weight training to strengthen the muscles that support the knee, Muschler and Rodeo said.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

MRI sees the lesions that flag future knee pain

Original Article By Futurity.com

Factors that indicated study participants were at higher risk included frequent knee bending activity and Read more

Bone Scans and Bone Health Screenings

Original Article By WebMD

A bone density scan can detect thinning bones at an early stage. If you already have osteoporosis, bone scans can also tell you how fast the disease is progressing.But an abnormal bone scan can create as many questions as it answers. Who should get a bone density scan, and what do the results mean? If your bone density is below normal, what can you expect, and what should you do?

A Date With DEXA

Most bone scans use a technology called DEXA (for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry). In a DEXA scan, a person lies on a table while a technician aims a scanner mounted on a long arm. (Think of the machine that X-rays your teeth at the dentist; the difference is that this test uses very low energy radiation.)

“DEXA currently is the easiest, most standardized form of bone density testing, so that’s what we use,” says Mary Rhee, MD, MS, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta.

The DEXA scanner uses beams of very low-energy radiation to determine the density of the bone. The amount of radiation is tiny: about one-tenth of a chest X-ray. The test is painless, and considered completely safe. Pregnant women should not get DEXA scans because the developing baby shouldn’t be exposed to radiation, no matter how low the dose, if possible.

Measurements are usually taken at the hip, and sometimes the spine and other sites. Insurance or Medicare generally pays for the test in women considered at risk for osteoporosis, or those already diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Other less commonly used technologies can measure bone density. They include:

  • Variations of DEXA, which measure bone density in the forearm, finger, or heel.
  • Quantitative computed tomography (QCT). Essentially a CAT scan of the bones, QCT provides more detailed images than DEXA.
  • Ultrasound of the bones in the heel, leg, kneecap, or other areas.

While all of these can determine bone density and osteoporosis risk, “DEXA is the most important test and is the gold standard,” says Felicia Cosman, MD, clinical director for the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Read more

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Inactivity Can Quickly Trigger Diabetes in Seniors

By Robert Preidt | Featured on WebMD

A short stretch of inactivity can unlease diabetes in older adults at risk for the blood-sugar disease, a new study finds. For the study, overweight patients with prediabetes were asked to reduce their daily steps to no more than 1,000 a day for two weeks.

This short stretch of reduced activity led to elevated blood sugar levels and sped onset of type 2 diabetes — and some patients did not fully recover even after resuming normal activity, according to the Canadian study. It was published online recently in The Journals of Gerontology.

“We expected to find that the study participants would become diabetic, but we were surprised to see that they didn’t revert back to their healthier state when they returned to normal activity,” said lead author Chris McGlory.

He is a research fellow in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. The findings suggest seniors who become inactive due to illness, bed rest or hospitalization are more likely to suffer harmful health effects.

“Treatment of type 2 diabetes is expensive and often complicated,” study co-author Stuart Phillips said in a university news release. Phillips is a professor in the department of kinesiology.

“If people are going to be off their feet for an extended period they need to work actively to recover their ability to handle blood sugar,” he said.

More than 84 million Americans have prediabetes, and more than 30 million are diabetic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In order for prediabetic older adults to recover metabolic health and prevent further declines from periods of inactivity, strategies such as active rehabilitation, dietary changes and perhaps medication might be useful,” McGlory said.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

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Worried about breaking a hip? There might be something better than calcium.

Article by Sara Chodosh | Found on Popsci

Vitamin supplement companies want you to believe their products stave off disease. They can save you from heart attacks and broken bones and common colds. Or at least they say they can. But too often, those claims aren’t based on scientific studies, and consumers are left either mislead or unsure of what can actually help them.

Luckily, we have a panel of people whose job is to evaluate the evidence for interventions like vitamin supplements. They’re called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and they just released their latest judgment: calcium and vitamin D probably don’t help the elderly stave off broken bones. The one thing that they think will do the trick? Exercise.

Here’s what you need to know.

Just the key facts

Lots of older people are worried about falling, and though breaking a hip is now a cliché, it’s also a serious problem for elderly Americans. Alex Krist, a leading member of the USPSTF, noted in a recent interview with the journal JAMA that there are about two million fractures a year, and that those people who fracture their hips often end up being unable to walk again. What’s more, he notes that “more than half require assistance with daily activities, and 20 to 30 percent die within a year of their fracture.” This is why it’s so important to understand which interventions really work to prevent falls and fractures.

But when the USPSTF looked at the studies that have been done investigating whether calcium supplements, vitamin D pills, or both combined had any positive effect, they found evidence that lower doses did absolutely nothing. They now recommend against taking between 400 IU vitamin D (standard pills are often around 2000 IU) or 1000 mg of calcium. As for higher doses, there just wasn’t enough evidence to make a recommendation either way. Calcium supplements did seem to increase the likelihood of kidney stones, especially at high doses, so it’s possible taking more would be harmful. Krist also noted that too much calcium can build up inside arteries, increasing risk of vascular disease in the process.

It’s important to note here that this is all only true for adults who aren’t at high risk of osteoporosis, which is a weakening of bones that makes them brittle. Those who are at high risk would benefit from added calcium and potentially also from vitamin D, which helps to metabolize calcium inside your body.

Since falls are still a huge problem for the elderly, though, the USPSTF also examined which interventions could actually work. After all, there were 29 million falls in 2015 alone, and 33,000 deaths resulting from those falls. Vitamin D did nothing. Neither did multifactorial interventions, which would entail preparing a plan for nutrition, mobility exercises, and so on for individual patients. The thing that actually does work is exercise. It was only a modest amount, but it helped even those elderly adults who were at high risk of falling. Exercise reduced the relative risk of a fall to 0.89 (compared to a risk of 1.0 without exercise), and reduced the risk of injurious falls to 0.81 (again, down from a default risk of 1.0). The type of exercise varied a lot between all the studies the USPSTF looked at, but generally included three sessions per week of balance/functional training, resistance work, and flexibility components.

One important caveat

In an accompanying editorial to these USPSTF recommendations, David Reuben, a geriatric specialist at UCLA who wasn’t involved in the report, notes that it’s possible some vitamin-based supplements actually could help—it’s just that people don’t take them regularly enough. He points out that in one of the key studies, if you looked only at the people who took at least 80 percent of their supplements you could see a 29 percent reduction in hip fractures.

Of course, if people aren’t able to stick to a vitamin regimen—even one prescribed for a clinical trial—it may be useless to prescribe it as an intervention anyway.

The upshot

If you aren’t at high risk for osteoporosis: don’t bother with vitamins! The evidence all says that you’re unlikely to see any benefit—unless you have a deficiency—and you could end up with a whole new set of problems if you take too much.

If you are at high risk for osteoporosis: go talk to your doctor first, but you’d likely benefit from calcium supplements, possibly alongside vitamin D pills.

Either way: get some exercise! Krist says he tells all his patients (he’s a practicing physician, as well as being on the USPSTF) to at least get out and walk for 30 minutes several times a week, but notes this can be difficult for his older patients who are too scared of falling. He tries to get those people into some kind of regimented program that makes them feel safer, and aims for them to train three times a week.

Resistance and strength training help build muscles that are important for all your daily activities. Walking, standing up from a chair, even just sitting down—you can only help yourself out by getting regular workouts. And apparently, your bones will thank you.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

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Children Are as Fit as Endurance Athletes

Article Found on ScienceDaily

Children not only have fatigue-resistant muscles, but recover very quickly from high-intensity exercise — even faster than well-trained adult endurance athletes. This is the finding of new research published in open-access journal Frontiers in Physiology, which compared the energy output and post-exercise recovery rates of young boys, untrained adults and endurance athletes. The research could help develop athletic potential in children as well as improve our understanding of how our bodies change from childhood to adulthood — including how these processes contribute to the risk of diseases such as diabetes.

“During many physical tasks, children might tire earlier than adults because they have limited cardiovascular capability, tend to adopt less-efficient movement patterns and need to take more steps to move a given distance. Our research shows children have overcome some of these limitations through the development of fatigue-resistant muscles and the ability to recover very quickly from high-intensity exercise,” say Sébastien Ratel, Associate Professor in Exercise Physiology who completed this study at the Université Clermont Auvergne, France, and co-author Anthony Blazevich, Professor in Biomechanics at Edith Cowan University, Australia.

Previous research has shown that children do not tire as quickly as untrained adults during physical tasks. Ratel and Blazevich suggested the energy profiles of children could be comparable to endurance athletes, but there was no evidence to prove this until now.

The researchers asked three different groups — 8-12 year-old boys and adults of two different fitness levels — to perform cycling tasks. The boys and untrained adults were not participants in regular vigorous physical activity. In contrast the last group, the endurance athletes, were national-level competitors at triathlons or long-distance running and cycling.

Each group was assessed for the body’s two different ways of producing energy. The first, aerobic, uses oxygen from the blood. The second, anaerobic, doesn’t use oxygen and produces acidosis and lactate (often known by the incorrect term, lactic acid), which may cause muscle fatigue. The participants’ heart-rate, oxygen levels and lactate-removal rates were checked after the cycling tasks to see how quickly they recovered.

In all tests, the children outperformed the untrained adults.

“We found the children used more of their aerobic metabolism and were therefore less tired during the high-intensity physical activities,” says Ratel. “They also recovered very quickly — even faster than the well-trained adult endurance athletes — as demonstrated by their faster heart-rate recovery and ability to remove blood lactate.”

“This may explain why children seem to have the ability to play and play and play, long after adults have become tired.”

Ratel and Blazevich explain the significance of their findings. “Many parents ask about the best way to develop their child’s athletic potential. Our study shows that muscle endurance is often very good in children, so it might be better to focus on other areas of fitness such as their sports technique, sprint speed or muscle strength. This may help to optimize physical training in children, so that they perform better and enjoy sports more.”

Ratel continues, “With the rise in diseases related to physical inactivity, it is helpful to understand the physiological changes with growth that might contribute to the risk of disease. Our research indicates that aerobic fitness, at least at the muscle level, decreases significantly as children move into adulthood — which is around the time increases in diseases such as diabetes occur.

“It will be interesting in future research to determine whether the muscular changes we have observed are directly related to disease risk. At least, our results might provide motivation for practitioners to maintain muscle fitness as children grow up; it seems that being a child might be healthy for us.”


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area. New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more. If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

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Exercise for Your Bone Health

Article Found on NIH.gov

Vital at every age for healthy bones, exercise is important for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Not only does exercise improve your bone health, it also increases muscle strength, coordination, and balance, and it leads to better overall health. Read more

sports injuries, orthopedics

Brain Differences in Athletes Playing Contact vs. Noncontact Sports

Article Found on ScienceDaily

A study from researchers at Indiana University in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical has found differences in the brains of athletes who participate in contact sports compared to those who participate in noncontact sports.

The differences were observed as both groups were given a simple visual task. The results could suggest that a history of minor but repeated blows to the head can result in compensatory changes to the brain as it relates to eye movement function. Or it could show how the hundreds of hours that contact sport players spend on eye-hand coordination skills leads to a reorganization of the brain in the areas dedicated to eye movements.

While more research is needed, senior author Nicholas Port said the findings contribute important information to research on subconcussive blows — or “microconcussions” — that are common in sports such as football, soccer, ice hockey, snowboarding and skiing. Interest in subconcussions has grown significantly in recent years as the long- and short-term risks of concussions — or mild traumatic brain injury — have become more widely known and understood.

“The verdict is still out on the seriousness of subconcussions, but we’ve got to learn more since we’re seeing a real difference between people who participate in sports with higher risk for these impacts,” said Port, an associate professor in the IU School of Optometry. “It’s imperative to learn whether these impacts have an actual effect on cognitive function — as well as how much exposure is too much.”

To conduct the study, Port and researchers in the IU Bloomington Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences scanned the brains of 21 football players and 19 cross-country runners using fMRI technology.

The researchers focused on these sports because football is a physical game in which small but repeated blows to the head are common, whereas cross-country is extremely low risk for such impacts. The contact sport players did not have a history of concussion, but these sports are known to lead to repeat subconcussive blows.

The researchers also scanned the brains of 11 non-college-level athletes from socioeconomic backgrounds similar to the football players to ensure their scan results were not rooted in factors unrelated to their sport.

The differences in football players’ versus cross-country runners’ brains were specifically seen in regions of the brain responsible for visual processing. These regions were much more active in football players versus cross-country runners or volunteers who did not play college sports.

“We focused on these brain regions because physicians and trainers regularly encounter large deficits in players’ ability to smoothly track a moving point with their eyes after suffering an acute concussion,” Port said.

Although there were clear differences between the brains of the football players and the cross-country runners, Port said interpretation of the study’s results is challenging.

“Everyone from musicians to taxi drivers has differences in brain activity related to their specific skills,” he said. “The differences in this study may reflect a lifetime exposure of subconcussive blows to the head, or they could simply be the result of playing a visually demanding sport where you’re constantly using your hands and tracking the ball.”

The ideal way to find the root cause of these differences would be a similar analysis using only football players, he said. The next generation of wearable accelerometers to measure physical impact during play will greatly enhance researchers’ ability to confidently sort players of the same sport into groups based on exposure to subconcussions.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area. New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more. If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

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Osteoarthritis: Could Researchers Have Found the Key to Prevention?

Article Found on MedicalNewsToday

A new study may have revealed a possible new prevention and treatment strategy for osteoarthritis, which is one of the most common and debilitating age-related diseases in the United States.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in San Diego, CA, reveal that proteins called FoxO are key for joint health.

By boosting the levels of these FoxO proteins, they believe that it might be possible to treat osteoarthritis, or even stop the disease from developing. Read more

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Molecular Response of Muscle to Different Types of Exercise Identified

Article Found on ScienceDaily

Exercise in the future could be customized for individuals based on genomics, according to a study by Arizona State University (ASU) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope.

For years, scientists have studied the effects of different types of exercise on the human body, but never before at this level of molecular precision, according to the TGen-ASU study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

“We hope to leverage these findings into more precise exercise recommendations in the future — ones that are tailored to an individual not only based on their physiological needs but also based on their molecular response to exercise,” said Dr. Matt Huentelman, professor in TGen’s Neurogenomics Division, and one of the study’s senior authors. Read more