Aftercare Instructions for Stem Cell Injections
Set Yourself Up for Success.
Your new stem cells are going to be tender and delicate. They will need special care if they are going to grow and help heal your injured or degenerated joint or disc. When in doubt be kind to them. You are going to need to be your body’s best advocate.
While you might be able to recover on your own if you have knee pain, it’s still important to get treatment so you can strengthen your knee and prevent re-injury.
If It Hurts, Don’t Over Do It.
It is important to use caution with activity. You can be sore from the procedure. Having muscle spasms from the injection are not uncommon, so you should be prepared for some pain or discomfort the first week. Use your pain as a guideline and limit activity early in your recovery. You can use heat for any muscle spasms (deep ache, grabbing pain with transitions), Use ice for any inflammation (sharp, localized, burning, nerve pain). You can alternate hot and cold as needed. Deep diaphragmatic breathing and stretching with heat can help with the muscular pain. Get up and walk frequently, any motion is helpful.
The Anti-Inflammatory Effects.
During the first week after your injection, some people enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefit of stem cells, resulting in a dramatic decrease in pain; however, somewi people will have increased pain from the procedure. You must be careful to not overdo it! Use caution with your activity, no matter how good you may feel. Old pain may return in a few days. Do not take any anti-inflammatory medication. You need your body’s natural inflammatory process to start your healing process to create the matrix in your tissue/joint to gravitate the stem cells.
Immediately After Your Injections
Each and every case is unique and the side effects will differ for each person. You may experience more pain and inflammation than others; please make sure to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Certain joints or body areas can be more painful to inject, such as the spinal discs or your ankles. Expect varying degrees of pain in the first few days after your procedure, and treat with ice and/or heat and any medication if necessary. If severe pain lasts for more than a few days, contact us for advice. Treatments that can help you with managing the pain and may benefit the healing process include ultrasound, cold laser, electrical stimulation, gentle myofascial release, trigger point dry needlingcore and joint stabilization, stretching, massage kinesiology tape, ice and/or heat, and medication.
Weeks 1 & 2 After Injections
Make sure you restrict yourself to light activity. You may be sore, but it is better to move rather than to be completely sedentary. Make sure to use pain as your guideline. During the early weeks of regenerative healing, your body’s natural inflammatory process will use leukocytes, cytokines, proteins and inflammation that create a “scaffold” for the cells to bind to. These cells are just starting to form and divide, your going to want to be cautious and avoid shearing, overloading or compression on the joint that was injected. Your going to want to avoid too many frequent stairs, if possible (for the hip and knee injections), also limit lifting to 5-10 pounds on occasion. No running or lifting to much during the first 6 weeks. Minimize any load, compressive forces, and torque on your joints and discs. Gentle stretching exercises are appropriate. Light and easy walking can be very helpful in minimizing soreness for spine patients.
Manage any muscle soreness or spasms with heat, think hot showeror heating pad. Use is for inflammation do to procedure. Avoid NSAIDs (Aleve, ibuprofen andanti-inflammatory medication). You will need your body’s inflammatory process to assist with your healing. Walking in the pool can be a nice way to get some motion; it will help unload your joints and be soothing. Don't get in the pool until your injection sites are healed. Use a noodle, kick board, or buoy for support in the water. Kinesiology tape or additional medication may be needed to help you to manage your pain. Analgesic creams or gel think (Bio freeze, Traumeel) could help with pain. Mild to moderate pain is acceptable and will be present for a few days, but severe pain is not. So if your pain becomes severe and you cannot manage your pain with the above recommendations, please contact us.
We do recommend Physical Therapy and/or Chiropractic treatment to provide gentle exercise and manual release. Using Cold laser, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation (TENS) are appropriate for in pain management. You also may wear a compressive brace that will support you during activity if it feels good, but never wear it when sedentary. Begin with core stabilization exercises to minimize re-injury.
Weeks 3 & 4 After Injections
Avoid any repetitive loaded exercise, like running, stair steppers or weight lifting. You also may walk, use an exercise bike, elliptical machine or walk/swim in the pool. These exercises will have minimal compressive loading or pounding to your joints. Keep all workouts at less than 50 percent of normal, pre-injection for distance/weight/reps. You need to give the new stem cells time to implant themselves in the healing tissues. Also proceed with caution; increase your activity only within pain limits. If it hurts, don’t over do it! Maintain your normal range of motion in injected areas with limited to gentle exercise. Stretching, mat Pilates, tai chi, yoga and easy walking are perfect. Continue to manage your inflammation with ice and pain medications and only as directed if needed. If the pain persists and/or doesn’t respond to other medications or treatments, then you may start taking NSAIDs, but try to avoid them if you can. Contact us if you are still having pain or difficulty with your healing.
Weeks 5 & 6 After Injections
At this poin you may initiate some light running exercise on even and soft terrain, a treadmill, or maybe a track. Make sure to wear lumbar or joint support. Please be careful with any jarring or compressive exercise, and make sure to avoid shearing. No hiking on inclines or difficult, uneven terrain. Going up any hills may feel fine, but as you come down is may be difficult for an unstable joint. You can continue with core stabilization and joint stabilization exercises. You may start to increase resistance with light weight lifting, but please still be cautious.
The stem cells are building new tissue and need blood/oxygen flow through gentle exercise but can’t tolerate being stressed with too much exercise. You may also continue with a stationary bike, elliptical, stretching, yoga, Pilates, and swimming exercise. Just Avoid compressive exercise such as overhead press, calf raises with weights on shoulders, squat rack, supine leg press, prone hamstring curls, twisting, repetitive flexion extension, dead lifts, clean and jerks, kettle bells over shoulder level, box jumping, etc. If you still are experiencing pain, please back off on activity and continue to use ice/heat. If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to call.
Weeks 7 & 8 After Injections
As long as you’re not experiencing any pain, you can slowly progress to your normal workout, but never to the point of pain in your injected area. Set yourself up for success by maintaining some type of aerobic excercise without injuring the new juvenile stem cells. Avoid shearing or over compressive exercises. Continue to increase core and joint strengthening for optimal stabilization. Continue to use ice/heat for pain and inflammation as needed.
Months 3–6 After Injections
Your stem cells are now at their peak of healing potential; Let them help heal you by not overdoing it. Walking, biking, yoga, stretching, and light weights are appropriate. Be careful with distance running. Get yourself strong to support your joints. Continue using caution with any compressive activity, twisting, planting and pivoting, overhead activity, and repetitive motion. Consider physical therapy if you need guidance on proper exercise to protect your joints and injection site(s) as you continue to heal.