Do stem cells work for joint pain?

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

Written by: Alexander Riordan, MD

Wondering what trusted orthopaedic surgeons think about stem cells? The facts may surprise you...


Arthritis is the wearing away of the smooth cartilage surface in your joints. Recently, there has been a heavy increase in the offering and advertising of stem cell injections into joints such as the hip, knee, and shoulder for the treatment of arthritis. As with many new technologies, the physicians at Blount Orthopaedic Associates have stayed up-to-date on the latest research. We also take direction from our overarching organization that binds all board-certified orthopaedic surgeons together: the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Recently, the AAOS has provided us information that we wish to share with you, the patient, so that you may make the most informed decision possible when considering treatment options.

5 important facts for your health & safety

  1. Although stem cells clearly have potential in healthcare, stem cell injections have NOT been proven to actually regrow the smooth cartilage joint surface in humans. In other words, it does NOT cure arthritis.

  2. Stem cell injections are NOT a regulated product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, healthcare providers offering stem cell injections to patients have NOT had to use any clinical trials or scientific studies to prove their safety, and whether or not they work as a treatment. In contrast, the treatments we recommend at Blount Orthopaedic Associates have been time-tested, clinically proven, extensively researched, and fully supported by the AAOS.

  3. Many advertisements regarding stem cell injections have been deemed either misleading or false. As a result, large organizations (the AAOS, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases) have now called for corrective action to help protect patients.

  4. The majority of stem cell clinics do NOT offer enough stem cells to have the intended biologic effect. These clinics are currently using this as a loophole to avoid FDA regulation.

  5. Once the cells are removed from your body, stem cell clinics are NOT required to tell you exactly what they do to the cells, nor what is specifically contained in them. We, the physicians at Blount Orthopaedic Associates, cannot recommend injection of such undefined products into your body.


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