Minimally Invasive Joint Surgery: A Bad Idea

16 September 2016
Comments: Comments Off on Minimally Invasive Joint Surgery: A Bad Idea
Category: Blog
16 September 2016, Comments: Comments Off on Minimally Invasive Joint Surgery: A Bad Idea

Revolutionary Treatment?

Stem cell therapy for the treatment of orthopedic conditions is gaining popularity and acceptance. This is a mixed blessing. Patients are better informed about how stem cell therapy can help them, but, there is also a lot of misinformation and creative marketing out there that patients need to be aware of. For example, I recently saw an ad for an orthopedic clinic touting a new,” revolutionary” treatment for knee, hip and shoulder pain using stem cells. I was curious to see what this “revolutionary” treatment was. To my surprise the “revolutionary” treatment consisted of: 1) the use of amniotic derived products (which contain no live stem cells), and 2) “minimally invasive joint surgery”, which happens to be arthroscopic surgery, a surgical procedure that surgeons have been performing for several decades. Apparently trying to emulate the marketing success of spine clinics performing minimally invasive spine surgeries, this orthopedic clinic has re-labeled joint arthroscopic surgeries as “minimally invasive joint surgeries”.


Bad Idea

Arthroscopic joint surgeries are the most frequently performed elective surgeries in the USA. In the knee, this procedure is usually used to remove a torn meniscus (meniscectomy). The meniscus is a c-shaped connective tissue disc sitting in between the two bones of the knee joint which functions as a cushion and protection for the joint. Remove it and you are leaving the joint without cushioning and without protection.

I really can’t blame this clinic for trying to re-label their arthroscopic surgeries. In the last several years the medical evidence has suggested that many orthopedic surgeries, and in particular, arthroscopic surgeries, are ineffective and unnecessary. You can read our previous blogs on this topic here, or here. But, don’t just take our word for it. One of the most respected medical journals in the world recently published a damning article, and a scathing editorial against joint surgeries, and even the New York Times contributed with an article earlier this month, calling these surgeries useless.

So, several recent medical studies have shown that arthroscopic surgeries are not better than non-surgical treatments and, are, in most cases, unnecessary. On top of that, other studies have shown that patients who have arthroscopic meniscectomies have a greater probability of having a knee replacement surgery in the future. This is not surprising since, again, the meniscus is a cushion that protects the surface of the knee joint. Remove the meniscus and you expose the cartilage in the joint to accelerated degeneration. Cartilage is damaged and lost at a greater rate and this result in a greater probability of a knee replacement surgery in the future.



So, this “revolutionary stem cell treatment” uses an off-the-shelf product which contains no live cells. Read here and here about the questionable marketing techniques of amniotic derived products. Then this treatment also involves surgery: a type of surgery that is not new (being performed for more than 30 years), is not significantly better than non-surgical treatment, and that can cause more joint damage in the long run.

If you are looking to avoid joint surgeries and are looking for stem cell treatment alternatives, make sure that the treatment offered is really stem cell and not amniotic-derived products with no live cells. Also, if the goal is to avoid surgery, then you should avoid ALL surgeries. It makes no sense to get a “minimally invasive” joint surgery that is ineffective, it involves more risks, and could potentially cause more damage to the joint.


Schedule a free consultation today to learn how regenerative treatment can help you manage your joint pain.

To learn more about non-surgical alternatives to joint replacement surgeries go to: .