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Regenerative therapy harnesses the renewing and restorative power of stem cells to treat various conditions.

Therapeutic stem cells have the potential to repair and replace aged or injured tissues. Newer research also shows that stem cells release high concentrations of helpful molecules that modulate the immune system, improve wound healing, and treat a variety of diseases.

What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are cells that have the potential to become several different types of cells. One type of stem cell—a mesenchymal stem cell—can become a muscle cell, a bone cell, a cartilage cell, or any of about a dozen other types of cells. Virtually all mature cells in the body that make up our tissues and organs start out as stem cells.

  • 01 | What Do Stem Cells Do

    Stem cells have two main functions. The first function is to serve as the building blocks for the body. Stem cells differentiate or specialize into different cell types to create tissues and organs during development. The second function is renewal, repair and recovery. Stems cells can replace old (senescent), injured, or dead cells with new cells of the same type. Stem cells naturally replace aged cells or they can speed up recovery, treat injury, or reverse the signs of aging.

  • 02 | Where Do Stem Cells Come From?

    Most tissues in the body contain some stem cells; however, they tend to be few and far between. That being said, researchers have found a few plentiful sources of stem cells. Large populations of stem cells can be harvested from embryonic tissue, umbilical cord tissue/Wharton’s Jelly, adipose tissue (fat), and bone marrow. The use of embryonic stem cells is still quite controversial, but stem cells from the other sources are not. Umbilical cord tissue is collected after a child’s birth from the cord that would otherwise be discarded as medical waste. Stem cells can also be created in a lab by genetically reprogramming adult cells. Lab-created stem cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells.

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How Does Regenerative Therapy Work?

While stem cells presenting naturally in tissues can respond to age-related changes or injury, they tend to work slowly and inefficiently. This is especially true as people age—the number and regenerative capacity of stem cells decreases with age. When doctors infuse stem cells into the body, they achieve four main goals:

Increase the number of stem cells in an area – Relatively few stem cells normally exist in the body. Regenerative therapy greatly increases the number of available stem cells, and they can be infused where they are needed (e.g., near a degenerating spinal disc, into an arthritic knee, etc.)

Tilt the number of stem cells from older to newer stem cells – The older we get, the older our stem cells become. When stem cells are obtained from umbilical cord tissue, for example, they are virtually brand new and have maximal regenerative capacity.

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Infused stem cells become new, differentiated cells to replace old, dead or damaged cells – Stem cells can become new, differentiated cells depending on where they find themselves. Stem cells that reach the liver can become new liver cells, for example. This effect can be especially useful for treating tissue injury or degeneration.

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How Do Stem Cells Treat Illnesses?

Stem cells are the body’s natural way to repair damaged tissue, heal wounds, and support healthy tissue growth. By infusing relatively high concentrations of stem cells into the body, the body’s natural ability to heal and repair itself is magnified.

Conditions Treated with Regenerative Therapy

Scientists are constantly discovering new conditions that can be treated with Regenerative Therapy. In this article, we focus on conditions that primarily involve the bones, joints, muscles, and nerves.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Spinal discs have relatively poor blood supply, so it is more difficult for them to heal themselves than other tissues of the body. Since most degenerative disc disease is caused by aging and wear-and-tear, regenerative treatment may help spinal discs heal more effectively than they normally would.

Chronic Pain

Once pain becomes chronic, it can be difficult to treat. The most powerful analgesics, opioids, can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Regenerative Therapy may be able to treat chronic pain through several mechanisms including acting at the level of damaged or dysfunctional nerves and within the central nervous system.


Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint or joints that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. Regenerative Therapy may be able to reduce pain and inflammation in common causes of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Disc Hernias

Results from laboratory studies indicate Regenerative Therapy can reduce the pain-causing inflammation (through cytokine release and microglial activation) that occurs during spinal disc herniation. Simply put, stem cells may modulate the immune system around a herniated disc to decrease inflammation and pain.

Orthopedic Conditions

Regenerative Therapy has been used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions including degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, spine pain (e.g., neck pain, lower back pain), joint pain (e.g., hip pain, shoulder pain, knee pain), and bone fractures that have not healed quickly or correctly.

Joint Pain

Joint pain is usually caused by inflammation in (arthritis) or around (bursitis, tendonitis) the joint, eroded joint surfaces (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis), or both. Stem cells can reduce joint pain by reducing joint inflammation and restoring joint surfaces.

Pinched Nerves

When a nerve is pinched (i.e., nerve impingement), it causes pain, numbness, and/or weakness. These abnormalities occur because pinched nerves do not function properly. Stem cells may modulate the immune system, reduce inflammation and nerve irritation, and help the nerve to return to normal function.

More Conditions

As science learns more about Regenerative Therapy, the number of clinical uses increases. Ask your regenerative therapy specialist if Regenerative Therapy is right for your condition.
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Is Regenerative Therapy Safe?

Regenerative Therapy is remarkably safe. There are over 700 completed Phase 1 trials of Regenerative Therapy. (Phase 1 trials that directly assess patient safety) The rate of serious adverse events during these trials is extremely low. While any injected treatment comes with a certain amount of risk, Regenerative Therapy is quite safe relative to other infused treatments.

Benefits of Regenerative Cell Therapy

Pain relief

Faster recovery from surgery or injury

Less inflammation

Freedom from surgery
(or have been able to delay surgical treatment)

Enhanced healing and tissue regeneration

Very low occurrence of adverse events, especially compared to invasive treatments

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Regenerative Therapy and Arthritis

Regenerative therapy has considerable potential to treat arthritis, a condition that has very few effective non-surgical treatments. Regenerative Therapy has the potential to rebuild cartilage and joint surfaces destroyed by arthritis, reduce the chronic inflammation that makes arthritis painful and destructive, and provide cellular signals (i.e., cytokines) to slow the progression of arthritis..


Using Regenerative as a Surgical Alternative

Many patients choose regenerative therapy as an alternative to surgery like artificial disc replacement for several reasons. First, Regenerative Therapy is far less invasive than surgery. An injection into a knee joint is certainly less invasive than a knee replacement. Likewise, there is no downtime or recovery time after Regenerative Therapy. Recovery after knee, hip, or spine surgery may take weeks to months. In many cases, Regenerative Therapy is less expensive than surgery. Lastly, patients can still opt for surgery if Regenerative Therapy fails to relieve their symptoms to their satisfaction.

Regenerative Therapy FAQ

As regenerative therapy specialists with years of experience, we have heard the following questions about Regenerative Therapy most frequently. These are our answers.

How much does regenerative therapy cost?

The cost of Regenerative Therapy can vary widely depending on the number of infusions, the infusion location, and the disease being treated. The cost of regenerative therapy also depends on whether the cells come from donor tissue or are prepared from the patient’s own cells. Contact your doctor to discuss the cost of the procedure and insurance coverage.

What is regenerative therapy?

Regenerative therapy is the infusion of stem cells into the body to support, repair, and replace the body’s own cells that have been injured or have deteriorated due to age or disease.

Does regenerative therapy work?

Regenerative therapy does work for many people and for many conditions, but each patient needs to determine if regenerative therapy will meet their specific needs. Talk to your provider about your condition and your goals for recovery and health.

Does insurance cover regenerative therapy?

No, unfortunately. Neither Medicare nor private insurers cover the cost of regenerative therapy.

What is the success rate of regenerative therapy?

The success rate for regenerative therapy varies depending on the type of stem cell used, the way in which the stem cells are infused, the condition that is being treated, and how success is defined. Success rates range from 20% to 95% depending on these factors.

How is regenerative therapy performed?

Since stem cells generally need to reach the area of the body being treated, stem cells are often infused in or around the target area. For example, knee arthritis may be treated by infusing stem cells through a needle into the knee joint. Regenerative therapy may also be performed by infusing stem cells into a vein (i.e., intravenously). The procedure usually lasts 1 to 2 hours and patients can to return to their normal activities immediately.

How long does it take to see progress from regenerative therapy?

Just as it takes a long time for a skin wound or a broken bone to heal, so too does it take time for regenerative therapy to work. If patients see progress from regenerative therapy, it usually occurs within 4 to 8 weeks after treatment.

Will regenerative therapy help me?

While many patients benefit from regenerative therapy, some do not. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine who will and who will not benefit from regenerative therapy before treatment. That said, the chance of regenerative therapy success increases when high quality stem cells are used, and they are administered by trained doctors.

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Finding a Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy Specialist

Unfortunately, many “stem cell clinics” have popped up over the past several years that will perform injections they call stem cell therapy. Prospective patients should choose their provider carefully. The critical steps to finding a regenerative stem cell therapy specialist who is safe, experienced, and reputable are:

The provider should be a physician/surgeon. That means they have an MD or DO after their name.

The provider should be board-certified in the field that treats the condition. For example, heart problems should be treated by a board certified cardiologist; joint, bone, nerve and spine problems should be treated by a board-certified neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon; etc. Stem cell therapy is only one possible treatment, so the physician should have deep knowledge of all possible treatments for your condition.

The provider should have experience administering stem cells. Ask your prospective stem cell provider approximately how many stem cell infusions they have performed and what is their success rate in your specific condition. Also ask about their complication rate. Obviously, the success rate should be relatively high, and the complication rate should be relatively low.

The provider should use high quality stem cells. While embryonic stem cells have the highest potential to treat various illnesses, they are highly controversial and not widely available. Mesenchymal stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord Wharton’s Jelly are often the next best thing for most conditions.


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