Marc Darrow MD, JD. Thank you for reading my article. You can ask me your questions about bone marrow derived stem cells using the contact form below. 

We will often receive emails from people who are looking for research substance to back a claim that stem cells or PRP injection therapies can help them return to their game at a level equal to that which they had played pre-injury. This article will do that.

This is research from doctors affiliated with the South Carolina Orthopaedic Institute and the University of Miami. it was published in the prestigious, Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine.

Cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine offer safe and potentially efficacious treatment for sports-related musculoskeletal injuries. Basic science and preclinical studies that support the possibility of enhanced recovery from sports injuries using cell-based therapies are accumulating; however, more clinical evidence is necessary to define the indications and parameters for their use.

Accordingly, exposing patients to cell-based therapies could confer an unacceptable risk profile with minimal or no benefit. Continued clinical testing . . . to determine the relative risks and benefits as well as the indications and methodology of treatment.” (1)

In short the researchers are saying this can be a very beneficial treatment in the hands of doctors who know indications and methodology of treatment. In other words doctors experience in treating sports injuries with stem cells and PRP.

In the Journal of Knee Surgery doctors from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh had this to say:

  • Biologic agents (stem cells and blood platelets or PRP therapy) are gaining popularity in the management of bony and soft tissue conditions about the knee. They are becoming the mainstay of nonoperative therapy in the high-demand athletic population.(2)

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells have shown promise in the treatment of various conditions. Animal and clinical studies have demonstrated improved outcomes following PRP treatment in early osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as in chronic patellar tendinopathy.

Doctors in Italy have published a new study on the excitement being created by stem cell therapy; The bullet points are:

  • The use of stem cells as a biological approach to treat cartilage lesions and osteoarthritis has widely increased  as confirmed by the growing number of clinical trials published on this topic.
  • In addition to an intensive preclinical research, the use of these procedures has recently broken down the barriers towards clinical application, with more than half of the available papers published in the last 3 years.
  • Different sources have been investigated for clinical application, especially targeting knee or ankle cartilage disease.(3)

Stem cell treatments can act as a protector against future deterioration of the knee joint

In other research that would be appealing to the athlete or high activity patient, stem cell treatments restore damaged cartilage, but can also act as a protector against future deterioration of the knee joint.(4)

In the the American Journal of Sports Medicine, doctors at the Mayo Clinic have released a study on the effectiveness of bone marrow derived stem cells for knee osteoarthritis in the active patient. In this prospective, single-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 25 patients with pain in both knees from osteoarthritis were randomized to receive bone marrow derived stem cells into one knee and saline placebo into the other.

  • Bone marrow was aspirated from the iliac crests and concentrated in an automated centrifuge.
  • The resulting bone marrow aspirate concentrate (this is explained in the video below) was injected into the arthritic knee and was compared with a saline injection into the other knee, thereby utilizing each patient as his or her own control.

Early results show that bone marrow derived stem cell injections are a safe to use and is a reliable and viable cellular product.  Interestingly, pain scores in both knees decreased significantly from baseline at 1 week, 3 months, and 6 months. Pain relief, although dramatic, did not differ significantly between treated knees in the early stages.(5)

Recently a paper out of Augusta University in Georgia also explained stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis, specifically bone marrow stem cells. In their paper the Georgia doctors highlighted the comparisons between bone marrow derived stem cells and adipose or fat derived stem cells.

  • Bone marrow-derived stem cells have a higher chondrogenic capability (the ability to make cartilage) than fat derived stem cells.
  • Bone marrow-derived stem cells have have been more thoroughly studies than fat stem cells and findings suggest that bone marrow-derived stem cells can be safely implemented in treatment strategies for treatment-resistant osteoarthritis patients with minimal side effects.
  • Bone marrow-derived stem cells can undergo high rates of proliferation; have immunosuppressive actions,anti-inflammatory effects, and pro-regenerative properties.(6) Important to note is that the stem cells are acting as an anti-inflammatory and pro-regenerative agent at the same time.

Bone marrow derived stem cells are one type of treatment we offer. We also offer umbilical cord stem cell therapy. When a patient comes in for a consultation, we perform a physical examination to help us determine which is the best course of treatment options. We then discuss our recommendations with the patient.


Ask Dr. Darrow about your knee pain


A leading provider of stem cell therapy, platelet rich plasma and prolotherapy
11645 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD SUITE 120, LOS ANGELES, CA 90025

PHONE: (800) 300-9300

1 Ajibade DA, Vance DD, Hare JM, Kaplan LD, Lesniak BP. Emerging applications of stem cell and regenerative medicine to sports injuries. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine. 2014;2(2):2325967113519935.

2 Kopka M, Bradley JP. The Use of Biologic Agents in Athletes with Knee Injuries. J Knee Surg. 2016 May 20. [Epub ahead of print]

3 Filardo G, Perdisa F, Roffi A, Marcacci M, Kon E. Stem cells in articular cartilage regeneration. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research. 2016;11:42. doi:10.1186/s13018-016-0378-x.

4 Yang X, Zhu TY, Wen LC, Cao YP1, Liu C, Cui YP, Meng ZC, Liu H. Intraarticular Injection of Allogenic Mesenchymal Stem Cells has a Protective Role for the Osteoarthritis. Chin Med J (Engl). 2015 20th Sep;128(18):2516-2523. doi: 10.4103/0366-6999.164981.

5 Shapiro SA, Kazmerchak SE, Heckman MG, Zubair AC, O’Connor MI, A Prospective, Single-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate for Knee Osteoarthritis. Am J Sports Med. 2017 Jan;45(1):82-90. doi: 10.1177/0363546516662455. Epub 2016 Sep 30.

6 Burke J, Hunter M, Kolhe R, Isales C, Hamrick M, Fulzele S. Therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cell based therapy for osteoarthritis. Clinical and Translational Medicine. 2016;5:27. doi:10.1186/s40169-016-0112-7. 2