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Stem Cell Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tears

Stem Cell Rotator Cuff Repair Overview

The shoulder is considered the most mobile joint in the human body and is prone to a number of injuries, including a rotator cuff tear. The rotator cuff is a critical structure found within the shoulder joint that provides strength and allows overhead movements of the arm. A rotator cuff tear is quite common in the athletic community and involves a partial or complete tear of one or more of the four muscle-tendon units. Many patients who experience a rotator cuff tear require treatment to alleviate shoulder pain, weakness and loss of mobility. Stem cell therapy for rotator cuff tears may be a valuable treatment option for patients involved in an active lifestyle who want to eliminate the need for surgery. Dr. Brian Waterman, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, offers patients stem cell rotator cuff repair.

What is Stem Cell Rotator Cuff Repair?

The rotator cuff is composed of four muscle-tendon units that attach the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade and provides strength and stability to the shoulder. When one of these units becomes torn during athletic activities or from chronic overuse, patients experience pain, weakness and loss of motion.

Orthopedic specialists often begin treatment for a torn rotator cuff with rest, medications, cortisone injections and physical therapy. Surgery is commonly the next step if conservative measures fail. Dr. Waterman offers stem cell rotator cuff repair so patients can use their own adult stem cells found throughout their body either at the time of repair or in select patients as a possible alternative to undergoing surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation program.

If you would like to see the leading research on the outcomes of biologic/regenerative treatments, please visit our research library.

How Does Dr. Waterman Perform Stem Cell Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tears?

Adult stem cells, also known as autologous stem cells, are recognized in the medical field as having a natural ability to help the body with both healing and regeneration. Adult stem cells are extracted from a patient’s own body, typically from the iliac pelvic bone found in the hip. By utilizing a patient’s own stem cells, the risk of disease transmission, tissue rejection and infection is eliminated. Patients also eliminate the ethical concerns associated with the controversial embryonic or fetal stem cell treatments.

Stem cell therapy for rotator cuff tears requires Dr. Waterman to harvest a sample of a patient’s bone marrow, usually from the hip region. The bone marrow sample is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the “pluripotent” adult stem cells, platelets and white blood cells from the red blood cells. The combination of the three healing agents is then injected directly into the damaged rotator cuff to promote tissue healing and regeneration. Alternatively, allograft (donor) cells harvested from otherwise discarded placental tissue may be used as an in office procedure.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
  • Learn more

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