Severe Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tear treated with Stem Cells

Shoulder rotator-cuff tears are painful and usually require surgery. Can stem cells treat such a condition? Regenexx has attempted to do just that with surprising success.

One patient who is called JS had a particularly bad rotator cuff tear that included a retraction of the rotator cuff muscle. Stem cell treatments might not help heal this tear since the two ends of the tendon or muscle need to be surgically pulled together for the stem cells to heal the tendon. When the tendon experiences a retracted tear of the rotator cuff muscle the two sides of the tear pull back like a rubber band. The tendon bunches up on either side of the tear, and it is difficult to envision how stem cells might heal such a tear, since tears where the two ends of the tear are close together can be filled in with stem cells that are precisely applied to the tear.

All of this changed, however, with the treatment of a patient known as JS. He had a 1.5 cm retracted tear from a weight-lifting injury. After reluctantly agreeing to treat him with a mesenchymal stem cell application, they placed the shoulder in a splint to bring the two ends of the tear closer together. Then JS received a Regenexx-SD procedure that was followed up with a Regenexx-SCP procedure. The Regenexx-SD procedure takes mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells from a bone marrow aspiration and then mixes them with a preparation of platelets taken from peripheral blood. Regenexx-SCP treatment uses a specific stem cell population from bone marrow (CD66e+ cells) that are mixed with a platelet-rich mixture from blood serum and injected into joints.

The Regenexx physicians had low expectations of this procedure, but to their surprise, JS reported a 99% improvement over the three months. A follow-up ultrasound demonstrated excellent healing with some fill-in of the retracted gap.  For MRIs for this patient’s shoulder before and after the treatment, see here.

One year after the shoulder stem cell injections, the improvement due to precision injections of the patient’s own stem cells is nothing short of amazing. The large gap in the rotator cuff  is now healed.  For MRI images of JS’s shoulder one year after the Regenexx treatment, see here.  JS did require a specialized treatment and bracing protocol unique to the Regenexx procedures and developed by Dr. Hanson. This is an example of stem-based orthopedic surgery at its best.

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Professor of Biochemistry at Spring Arbor University (SAU) in Spring Arbor, MI. Have been at SAU since 1999. Author of The Stem Cell Epistles. Before that I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA (1997-1999), and Sussex University, Falmer, UK (1994-1997). I studied Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Irvine (PhD 1994), and Microbiology at UC Davis (MA 1986, BS 1984).

2 thoughts on “Severe Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tear treated with Stem Cells”

  1. I am encouraged by the results of this treatment having recently been told my RTC is “irreparable”. Is this intervention considered experimental ?
    I am a 54 yo. healthy and active male with an interest in participating in this treatment approach. How do I apply for consideration in future studies?

    1. Brian,

      Please remember that this answer is my opinion and does not reflect the views of my employer. I am not a physician, and therefore, this should not be deemed as a professional medical judgment.

      Now that the disclaimer is finished, let me say that this is not a clinical trial, but is, instead, a result from a clinic in Colorado that has adapted a same-day stem cell procedure to all kinds of joint-related problems. Dr. Centeno, the physician who runs this clinic and who was the main developer of this technology, was somewhat skeptical that his treatment would work on this patient, but he tried it, and it seems to have worked. Centeno has documented most of his data in the knee, but he has extended his treatment regime to back injuries, hip injuries, and shoulder and elbow problems too.

      Centeno and his clinic represents the cutting edge of stem cell technologies. He has also tried to be very careful about his preparatory protocols and to document his results. He readily admits that his technique does not work for everyone. His website is Why not give him buzz and see if you are a candidate for his procedure?

      Michael Buratovich Ph.D.
      Professor of Biochemistry
      Spring Arbor University
      106 E. Main Street
      Spring Arbor, MI 49283

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