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stem cell therapy for sports injuries

Is Stem Cell Therapy Safe for My Sports Injury?

Stem cell therapy is an advanced form of medical treatment that works like a tissue regenerating therapy. It works by modifying the immune system by treating inflammation and repairing damaged cells.  

Stem cell therapy has grown in popularity as a reliable treatment option for a variety of medical ailments such as neurological, autoimmune, orthopedic, inflammatory, and traumatic injuries.  

Stem cell therapy has increasingly been used to treat sports injuries; however, sports medicine experts do not consider stem cell therapy to be a conventional practice, and most insurance providers do not cover it. Keep reading to learn more about stem cell therapy to treat sports injuries.  

Stem Cells  

Stem cells, aka master cells are the type of cells that transform into any of the body’s organs and blood. They have the ability to restore, repair, regenerate, and replace cells. They are usually obtained from the bone marrow of a person for treatments.  

Sport Injury Treatments Using Stem Cells  

Various sports injuries can be treated using stem cells. Damages to ligaments, tendons, cartilage, or muscle are healed using stem cells. The cause behind such injuries could be persistent overuse or a horrific accident. Stem cell therapy treatment can be provided in a few ways:  

  • Stem cells can be applied directly to the injury, a broken bone, injured tendon, or torn ligament during a surgical procedure.  
  • With advanced medical technology, equipment like stitches and sutures can be coated with the stem cells and then used to stitch back the injury. Dissolvable sutures are used for such procedures.  
  • Stem cells can be introduced directly to the injured or damaged area through an injection. 

Is Stem Cell Therapy Safe?  

While further research is needed, studies suggest that stem cell therapy is typically deemed safe as it involves using a patient’s own cells without any alteration and is conducted in a single session. Temporary swelling and discomfort are the most prevalent side effects. Stem cell injections are subject to the same hazards as any other medical treatment, including the possibility of an infection.  

Stem Cell Therapy Side Effects  

A patient’s chance of an adverse reaction is increased if:  

  • Sometimes, stem cells are generated in a lab or collected from another person or animal; However, this is uncommon as the patient’s own stem cells are collected mostly, reducing the likelihood of an adverse reaction.  
  • When cultured cells are used, cultured cells are those that are collected from a patient and cultured in a lab over time.  
  • An additional dangerous element emerges when stem cells are mixed with other substances that are supposed to improve stem cells’ therapeutic abilities.  

Are Athletes allowed Stem Cell Treatment?  

Stem cell therapy is allowed if and when stem cells are injected into the injured site at one seating, extracted during the same procedure, and injected at the injured site. The treatment should only restore the afflicted area’s functionality and not improve it.  

Aside from this, some other ways are used to prepare stem cells using different pharmaceutical preparations that include donor cells or tissue. This may be allowed under certain conditions.  

Stem cell injections are not allowed if the stem cells have been changed in a way that makes them work better or if illegal drugs like growth factors hormones have been added to the stem cell mixture after it has been obtained. The composition of various commercially manufactured or donor obtained stem cells that are subsequently kept alive or otherwise manipulated for therapy is extremely difficult to determine.  

Athletes Who Have Undergone Stem Cell Therapy  

Athletes feel pressured quite often and thereby are tempted to quickly get back on the field. This is why an increasing number of them are turning to stem cell treatments. Athletes frequently sustain significant injuries that might jeopardize their careers and cause serious long-term health problems. The majority of them resort to surgery to treat their injuries.  

Some of the famous athletes who resorted to stem cell therapy include Rafael Nedal, Christiano Ronaldo, Jarvis Green, Josh Hamilton, and Andrew Heinley.  

In Conclusion  

There have, however, been multiple reports of stem cell therapies going wrong. For example, a patient who developed a tumor following a stem cell injection into the spinal cord and another one who, after a stem cell injection into the eye, became blind.  

Other safety concerns raised by the FDA include tumor formations, injection site reactions, and cell failure to function as predicted.   

Many clinics have been identified by the FDA as abusing stem cells or employing them in ways that are not permitted under existing laws; therefore, it’s always better for an athlete to do their research and make sure that the clinic is FDA approved. Call @ (352) 351-4444 for expert treatment solutions.


Carl M. Salvati, DPM
Carl M. Salvati, DPM completed a three year podiatric medical and surgical residency with reconstructive rearfoot and ankle training at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, FL. During his time in residency, Dr Salvati had extensive experience in trauma, arthroscopy, diabetic limb salvage, and elective lower extremity procedures. He has an undergraduate BS BA degree from the University of Florida where he graduated cum laude and was a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. He received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine in Miami, Florida. Dr. Salvati participated in various charitable endeavors including the Yucatan Crippled Children’s Project in Mexico. He is board certified by the American board of Podiatric Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Podiatric Medicine. He is also board certified in the sub-specialty of Amputation Prevention and Wound Care by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. He has been Certified as a Wound Care Specialist Physician by the American Board of Wound Management. Dr Salvati is a dedicated and compassionate physician with extensive surgical and medical experience.

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