Stem Cell Therapy Post-Procedure Activities

Weeks 1 & 2 (after stem cell injections)

Leave the initial bandage over the bone marrow harvest site for 48 hours.  It is normal to have a small amount of bleeding during this time.  Replace the bandage if the dressing becomes soaked.  48 hours after the procedure, remove the bandages and clean with soap.  Apply band aids and you may shower, but do not submerge your body in water for 48 hours.

Restrict yourself to light activity of everyday living.  Try not to walk or be on your feet more than 30 minutes at a time for the first 48-72 hours.  You may be sore, but it is better to move than be sedentary.  You may get back to your regular routine, but avoid any strenuous activity such as exercise, and be cautious to avoid overloading (excess force on the affected joint), shearing (pivoting and twisting) or compression on the joint that was injected.  Use a cane or crutch(s) for a lower extremity joint.  The cane or crutch (if using only one crutch) should be used on the opposite side of the injected hip and may be used in either hand following a knee injection.

Limit lifting to 5 – 10 lbs. and avoid stooping and bending.  Limit stairs unless absolutely necessary – and if needed, take them one at a time.  For shoulder injections, lift no more than 20 lbs. for the first two weeks.

In the early weeks of regenerative healing, your body’s natural inflammatory process is creating a “scaffold” for the cells to bind.  Therefore, no anti-inflammatory medications are recommended so the body can use it’s own inflammatory process to help with healing.  Analgesic creams or gels (bio-freeze, Traumeel) can help with pain.

You can get in a pool once your injection site is healed (usually after 5 days).  Walking in a pool is a nice way to get some motion and can unload the joints and be soothing.  Use a kickboard, a buoy or a noodle for support in the water.

Mild to moderate pain is acceptable for a few days, but severe pain is not.  If your pain becomes severe or you cannot manage your pain with the above recommendations, contact us – 937-415-9100 – Ext. 331.  After hours, you may call the hospital operator at 937-723-3200 and page the Orthopedic Associates doctor on call.

We may refer you to physical or massage therapy to provide gentle exercise and manual release.  Cold laser, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation (TENS) are appropriate for pain management.  You may wear a compressive brace or support during activity, if it feels good, but do not wear it when sedentary.

Weeks 3 & 4

Avoid repetitive loaded exercise, like stair steppers, running or weight lifting.  You may walk, use an exercise bike or elliptical machine or swim/walk in the pool.  These exercises have minimal compressive loading on the joints.  Keep all workouts to less than 50% of normal/pre-injection distance/weight/reps.  Give the new stem cells time to implant themselves in the healing tissues.  Proceed with caution; increase activity within pain limits.

Maintain normal range of motion in injected with gentle exercise.  Yoga, stretching, mat Pilates, tai chi, and easy walking are perfect.

Continue to manage inflammation with ice and pain medications as directed if needed.  If your pain persists and doesn’t respond to other medication and treatments, you may begin taking anti-inflammatories, but avoid them if you can.

Weeks 5 & 6

Most patients will notice some benefits 4-6 weeks out from the procedure.  Usually the most dramatic benefits occur between 3-4 months as 80% of your improvement should occur by this time.  The additional 20% improvement from the procedure usually comes between 3-6 months.

You may initiate light running on even terrain, a treadmill or track.  Avoid shearing, uneven terrain and avoid hiking or difficult inclines.  You may continue core stabilization exercises, and begin increased resistance with weight lifting – but still BE CAUTIOUS!  Avoid compressive exercise, such as overhead press, calf raises with weights on shoulders, squatting and prone hamstring curls.  No kettle balls or clean and jerk activities.

If you are experiencing pain, back off activities and continue to ice.

Weeks 7 & 8

As long as you are not having pain, you can slowly progress to your normal workout, but NEVER to the point of pain in the injected area.  Continue to increase core and joint strengthening for optimal stabilization.  You may use anti-inflammatories and ice as needed.

Months 3 – 6

The stem cells are at the peak of healing potential.  Help them heal you by not overdoing it.  Walking, biking, yoga, stretching and light weights are appropriate.  Be careful with distance running.  Continue to use caution with compressive activity, twisting, planting and pivoting, and overhead activities.

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