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Stem cell therapy is powerful anti-inflammatory and regenerative medicine. It is very safe, highly effective, and we strongly recommend it.
But every patient is an individual, and the response to stem cell therapy varies from patient to patient. Thousands of veterinary patients have been treated and the results of various studies appear to indicate that considerably more than 50% of them have had good to excellent results, and substantially fewer than 20% have poor to no results.
Response to stem cell therapy can vary by onset, degree and duration of improvement. Pet owners have reported positive initial responses as soon as the day after the procedure, or not until a month later. With regard to stem cell therapy for arthritis, it is reasonable to allow up to 90 days to see a response.
Some pets will improve to a greater degree than others. One study looked at NSAID usage in dogs treated with stem cell therapy for arthritis. All of the dogs were being treated with an NSAID prior to stem cell therapy. At 90 days following stem cell therapy, 35.9% of the dogs were on the same dose of NSAID, 28.8% were on a decreased dose of NSAID, 1.8% were on an increased dose, and 33.5% had been taken off NSAIDs entirely. At 246 days following stem cell therapy, 28.1% were on the same dose, 28% were on a decreased dose, 33.8% were off NSAIDs entirely and 10.1% were on an increased dose.
The response to stem cell therapy will also vary in duration from patient to patient. For arthritic patients that show a good response to therapy, this response appears to commonly last 1 to 3 years. It is generally considered that retreatment of an arthritic patient is not worthwhile more often than once every 6 months.
When evaluating the response to stem cell therapy it is important to consider the type, stage, and expected progress of the patient’s problem. If the patient has a traumatic injury to a previously normal joint, the possibility of a complete return to normal function is much greater than it is for a patient with the common degenerative forms of arthritis. These latter patients have a problem that can be slowed but never completely stopped by any therapy, including stem cell. Also, if an arthritic joint is badly deformed, stem cell therapy is very likely to have positive anti-inflammatory and regenerative effects on the joint, but it cannot be expected to substantially reverse the deformity.
In other words, the nature of arthritis and many of the other problems for which we could consider stem cell use is that they are long-term, progressive problems that usually require more than one type of therapy to manage, and that also usually require persistent treatment, or occasional retreatment.
For example, common therapy for arthritis at YVC includes weight management, anti-inflammatory medication, pain control medication, nutraceuticals, therapeutic laser, and physical therapy. If we incorporate the powerful anti-inflammatory and unique regenerative effects of stem cell therapy into this mix, it is reasonable to expect a significant reduction in the need for some of the other therapies, and the need for some therapies might disappear. However, for most patients we believe that it is unreasonable to expect that the application of stem cell therapy will completely eliminate the need for any other therapy.