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Chiropractic Point-Counterpoint: stem cell therapy for pain

Chiropractic and stem cell therapy for pain, and what doctors of chiropractic think about promoting the therapy

Chiropractic and stem cell therapy for pain, and what doctors of chiropractic think about promoting the therapy

“My personal opinion is the stem cells definitely help with the healing of the joint, but whatever caused that joint to degenerate prematurely is probably still going to be there. And it’s the chiropractic, it’s the rehab, and the other services that help to repair that joint. And if you’re not doing that, you’re only doing part of the game … I think this is going to be the biggest breakthrough in health care in any of our lifetimes. Of course, there’s going to be people trying to cash in on it and make false claims, which gives the ability for people who aren’t in this business and competing against it, like the pharmaceutical industry, to shoot arrows at this whole industry, which is why we try to get as much information out there as possible. Do your homework. Learn about this and understand how it works.”

— Michael Carberry, DC

“Regenerative medicine is the process of replacing or regenerating cells and tissues to restore normal function. Initially popularized by professional athletes, these therapies have become mainstream.… Moving stem cell therapy for pain and regenerative medicine forward in the treatment algorithm may eliminate the need for other ineffective or potentially harmful therapies. These therapies provide new hope for patients whose only alternatives have been long-term medication, steroid injections, and costly and time-consuming surgery and rehab.

Stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies may only be provided by licensed medical professionals following all appropriate rules and regulations. An understanding of these emerging therapies and the benefits they may provide is essential as the collaboration between doctors of medicine and chiropractic increases and we join forces to combat chronic pain, dysfunction and disease.”


“Some chiropractic marketing groups created programs offering chiropractors a lucrative model including NPs/PAs and loose physician oversight. This model includes a non-surgical orthopedic treatment scheme with regenerative medicine products marketed as stem cells, when it’s truly a non-living birth tissue product.

Chiropractors can play a significant role in this treatment process by practicing excellent case management for recalcitrant orthopedic cases, and by ordering imaging and advising patients to consider the best non-surgical options. Then, by understanding how these cases are best managed, we can advise the patients about things to look for or be wary of when pursuing a stem cell therapy for pain treatment.

Chiropractors can also play an integral role in the patient’s preparation for and recovery from stem cell procedures. We can form a clinical alliance with the physicians trained in performing these procedures and provide pre-habilitation and rehabilitation for patients.”

— Abby Perone, DC, CES, CF-L1

“For a chiropractor looking to make a referral for their patients to receive adult stem cell therapy for pain, you would think that the choice would be quite clear based on the fact that bone marrow harvesting requires a surgical procedure to open the hipbone. This can in some cases cause permanent pain at the site, vertebral misalignment due to the pressure exerted during the process, and even fracture of the hip.

Alternatively, fat-derived adult stem-cell therapy is a simple procedure involving a small liposuction at the abdominal or flank area, in which a needle is placed subcutaneously. With manual suction and a bit of lidocaine, this can be accomplished in less than 30 minutes with minimal pain during and after the procedure. By contrast, a bone-marrow stem cell patient undergoes a surgical procedure that requires weeks if not months of healing time, whereas an adipose-tissue patient is able to drive home the same day.

Given our understanding of human anatomy, spinal alignment, and the detrimental effects of spinal misalignment, why would a chiropractor choose to refer their patients to an invasive bone marrow harvesting clinic for stem cell therapy?”

— Brent J. Detelich, DC

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