It’s supposed to be cutting edge, the next big thing. But does it really work?

If you have a sports or workplace injury, you might have wondered about trying stem cell therapy.

The procedure is being promoted for all sorts of injuries and conditions but the experts are advising you to proceed with caution.

According to Dr. Peter Carrazzone, the president of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, there have been some promising studies on stem cell therapy, which involves taking cells that have embryonic lineage so they’re malleable and can grow into different things. But, he adds, this is all very new and few studies have been completed.

“Without clinical trials, we don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s effective, despite the promising theory behind it, and we don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s safe,” he said. “But it seems like everybody’s jumping on board and running with this before we have all the facts.”

So is stem cell therapy something to consider?

“Because it’s not proven at this point and it’s still in the clinical trials phase, I would not start with this treatment," he said, adding that if you have a severe problem and nothing conventional is helping, “then you might be willing to take a chance with the promise that’s in this type of procedure.”

He also pointed out there are no real controls at this point on the people who are doing stem cell therapy and claiming they’re experts.

“It’s the potential for charlatanism in medicine," he said. “We don’t even know what the right dosing on some of these things is. Do you give 10,000 cells or a 100,000 cells? There’s really no protocols out there that are definitive right now.”

He also pointed out stem cells can be harvested from several different parts of your body, but “which is best? That’s what we don’t know.”

The cost of various stem cell treatments can vary from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He recommends that people interested in this treatment seek a center or major teaching institution that has been approved to perform clinical studies on it.

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