If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic pain, you may be looking into alternative remedies. You may have even heard of stem cell therapy as a potential treatment option.
Over the last decade, stem cell therapy has grown in popularity.
Stem cell therapies, like most medical procedures, will require more study to determine their benefits and hazards. Until then, the public is taking notice of the many patients clamoring about their success with regenerative therapy, specifically for orthopedic and spine issues.
But how much do these innovative procedures cost?
Location of Pain
A determining element in the cost of a person’s therapy is the source of their discomfort. The location (neck, knees, shoulders, feet, wrists, etc.) dictates how many distinct structures are contributing to a person’s discomfort, and hence the therapy complexity.
If the discomfort is caused by a single joint, for example, the therapy should be straightforward and inexpensive. However, if the condition involves the surrounding tissues (muscle tissue, ligaments, and tendons), therapy becomes more complicated, and prices may rise.
Doctors will assess the degree of the problem and an estimate of the structures affected, as well as the intricacy of the therapy required, based on pretreatment exams.
Type of Treatment
Same-day injections and culture-expanded injections are the two most used stem cell therapies. Culture expansion is not allowed in the United States under FDA guidelines. Aside from these variations, the cells might be autologous, which means they originate from the patient, or allogeneic, which means they come from a donor.
Most clinical data and studies that are published have been performed using “autologous” stem cells, or, the patient’s own stem cells. Very little peer-reviewed, published clinical data exists using “allographs,” or, donor stem cells for orthopedic and spine procedures.
The price of stem cell treatments varies based on where you reside, who performs the treatment, and whether or not your insurance covers the procedure. There are very few insurance companies that cover these procedures. Professional athlete health insurance is one of the few insurance companies that cover these procedures. Medicare and almost all private insurances do not cover these procedures.
Based on the “CPT” billing codes for these treatments, an allogeneic stem cell treatment (CPT 38240) varies from $8,700 to $19,900. The cost of an autologous stem cell treatment (CPT 38241) costs $2,000 to $14,700 per.
These expenses were calculated using FAIR Health Consumer and specified areas of Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago.
The Cost of Stem Cell Therapy
In the United States, these procedures might cost anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000. This can be expensive but not compared to other pain treatment options. The information available on the expenses of surgical treatments and acute postoperative pain care suggest similar if not higher costs.
The average cost per patient associated with pain management following ambulatory procedures has been estimated at $1,869 for emergency visits and $13,902 for inpatient visits, for example.
The typical cost of autologous stem cell procedure (your own stem cells) for various body sections is as follows:
- Knee: $5,000-$15,000 per knee.
- Back pain/spine procedures: $8,000 to $30,000.
- Hip: $5,000-$10,000 per hip.
Stem Cell Therapy Procedures
The expenses of stem cell treatments may come as a surprise at first look. Because there are several processes linked to stem cell production and safety, it can be as expensive or more than other therapies. Furthermore, novel therapies are generally pricier than traditional medicines. These procedures often require more than one physician and technical staffer.
The following are the steps involved in stem cell treatments:
- Diagnostics: The patient’s condition will be assessed, including medical history, recent MRI/X-rays or other imaging, current therapies, and current health state, among other things. This will determine if patients are eligible for stem cell treatments.
- Harvesting stem cells: The patient’s stem cells are collected. This process is very reliant on the type of stem cell employed and the tissue source from which it is derived. “Autologous” stem cells from the bone marrow or fat are used by most physicians in the United States. in some clinics.
- Stem cell application: Concentrated tissue (bone marrow or fat) is then injected or transplanted into the damaged tissue/joint. This portion of the procedure should be performed under live ultrasound or live X-ray, if not it may not be placed in the correct location. In order to be successful, exact placement is required. A false myth is that the cells simply need to be near the injury and they will “migrate” to the area, this is not true. Precision is the key to success.
- Recovery: The majority of treatments are performed as outpatient procedures, which means that patients can leave the clinic shortly after treatment. These procedures typically take about 2 hours to complete. Typical recovery from the procedure takes about 3-10 days as a general rule.
- Post-treatment care: The progress of the patients should be tracked and followed. The first 3-6 months are the most important. Your physician should have a follow-up appointment and care laid out with you prior to the procedure.
Is the Cost of Stem Cell Therapy Worth It?
Because providers want patients to learn the advantages of therapy before making a pricing choice, they seldom publish their rates for stem cell therapies in print or digital media.
Furthermore, the cost of stem cell therapies varies depending on the patient’s health, the number of treatments necessary, and the procedure’s complexity, making it impossible for medical professionals to offer cost estimates without a diagnostic visit. However, in many circumstances, making decisions based on the expenses of medical treatment is not in the best interests of the patient.
Examining stem cell patient results by condition and comparing the healing process to other surgical and non-surgical treatment choices is the best method to determine whether autologous stem cell therapy is right for you.