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Columbus CEO: Stem Cell Therapy Science is Still Evolving

Let’s face it: finding out you need surgery can be a scary concept to deal with, no matter your medical condition or treatment. That’s why stem cell therapy, often used as an alternative to surgery, is greeted with such enthusiasm from many bone and joint patients.

However, Joseph Ruane, DO, medical director at the OhioHealth McConnell Spine Sport and Joint Center, explains why the treatment option, now recognized as orthobiologics, should be met with caution.

The therapy uses the body’s own cells without introducing synthetic materials, like steroids. The belief is that stem cells produce new generations of cells with a wide range of capabilities, such as growing cartilage or bone.

Though Ruane has seen improvements in patients who’ve used the treatment before, he told Columbus CEO reporter Laurie Allen in a recent interview that, “what we desire from a scientific standpoint we don’t have now. The evidence is still weak. The science has changed.”

Patients selected for orthobiologic therapy should be properly educated about their treatment plan. The therapy is not a cure-all solution and is most effective when paired with weight management exercises, physical therapy and other necessary medications.

“It’s only one tool in the toolbox, and it needs to be surrounded by other tools,” said Ruane.

Moving forward, the medical community needs to father more scientific evidence from ethods like randomized, controlled clinical trials to compare orthobiologics to existing therapies.

In the meantime, Ruane encourages patients to consider all their options and avoid false advertising.

“The best patient is one who knows all the options,” said Ruane. “In some cases, surgery is the best option.”

Prospective patients should ask questions about a physician’s education, certification and credentialing and choose a program affiliated with respected medical practices or hospitals.

To learn more about orthopedics at OhioHealth, click here.

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