Is This Trendy Therapy Right For What Hurts?

Just a week ago, a skier friend underwent stem cell therapy for his painful knee. Ever since, he’s been sending me emails extolling the wonders of this cutting edge technology. We’re all skiers and our knees take a beating over time, so when he began singing praises about adult stem cell therapy, I took notice and became curious. Then I did some superficial homework on adult stem cell therapy. There’s good news and bad news.

Not exotic fruit, fellas.  It's a blossoming stem cell that can be used in healing senior skier joint ailments.;
Not exotic fruit, fellas. It’s a blossoming stem cell that can be used in healing senior skier joint ailments.

The good news is that adult stem cell therapy has been going on for a long time with great success for many health conditions.

However, at this time it can’t cure everything, and I learned that some conditions can be aggravated by it. Patients must pay for the procedures out of their own pockets as insurance does not seem to cover it. And sometimes it takes more than one procedure to solve or make a dent in the health problem.

Stem cell therapy is trendy and clinics are apparently springing up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. The sites I checked have flashy websites with lots of glowing testimonials. But before you jump on the bandwagon of hope, find out if the bandwagon is going where you want to go or whether it might be a pricey ride to nowhere.

So here’s the bottom line: Is adult stem cell therapy the alternative, cutting edge miracle cure for what hurts — or might it be one size fits all hype? Look before you leap. Then decide.

If you’re interested in adult stem cell therapy, the International Society for Stem Cell Research website is a place to start.

Editor’s Note: Correspondent Harriet Wallis has two artificial knees, loves life and skis four days a week. She wrote the 5-part series on knee replacement for SeniorsSkiing.


  1. After some meniscus work, OA and cortisone shot and being an enthusiastic customer for years, I was told the next step might have to be a knee replacement, which is a very invasive procedure, not always with a guarantee for a happy life ever after. Knee replacements are of course also the darling of a booming business. I understand a knee replacement is maybe good for approx. 10 years (which will vary from case to case.
    So I also have looked in to the stem cell therapy (Regenexx) and it certainly sounds very appealing, except for the, not-covered-by-insurance, cost of approx. $4000.00 per treatment. The idea of walking out of the clinic same day after the treatment, without 3 months of intense daily therapy, is also appealing…
    So what is a skier to do…?

  2. There are some clinical research trials going on in SLC right now for stem cell treatment for backs and hips. I didn’t qualify for the study (drat), but it may be of help/interest to others.

  3. Ole,
    I understand your confusion and reticence to undergo total knee replacement! It can be a protracted and tough recovery, and as has often been said, knee replacement isn’t for sissies! However, the recent studies seem to demonstrate better statistics than you may have at hand. According to summaries quoted on many reputable sites, there is a 90-95% probability of a replacement lasting 15 years, 85% chance of 20 years, which means most knees (greater than 50%) last even longer. There are risks of knee replacement but there are significant health risks of non-replacement too, such as immobility, falls, obesity, osteoporosis, etc. As you may gather, I am a happy owner of two fully functional artificial knees that changed my life!

  4. Well, it turned out to be a total knee replacement and a summer of great physical therapy… So hopefully ready to ski this winter. Nervous about twists and torques out of a binding in case of a capsize… Are TKR’s using knee braces for additional support? Other experinces to consider?

  5. Edward l Wiebe says:

    OK — One week out after fluid injection ( widens the space) DUH- yea it feels better– but how about in one year>

  6. Bruce Courtney says:

    Well, as an almost 60 year old this month, I’ve realized that my running days are over for good. This is an excellent source of ski prep. However, I’ve met people that still run around my age & over. Genetics are a funny thing and sometimes seem downright unfair. Lol

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