Member chooses stem cell injections over back surgery

By Jed Stuber  ·  Aug 30, 2017

Samaritan Ministries member Michael Ott shrugged off chronic back pain for months until it became so debilitating he could no longer soldier on.

“Surgery was not the route I wanted to take, but the pain was so great I couldn’t even concentrate, let alone move,” he says.

After an MRI, a surgeon recommended surgery to fuse several vertebrae. Michael was dismayed to learn that it was likely he would no longer be able to live an active lifestyle as a busy pastor, involved father, and Cross Fit enthusiast.

Desperate, Michael mentioned his plight to a dermatologist. Even though it was outside his area of expertise, the dermatologist suggested checking into stem cell injections. Michael was surprised. He thought stem cell therapy was new and controversial.

“Stem cells conjured up images of strange science experiments in my mind,” Michael says, “but I began down the road of investigation. I quickly learned that providers offering stem cell injections are common, but I did not have confidence to move forward until Dr. Lieber helped me understand the Regenexx methods.

Michael says the three-hour drive across Florida to a Regenexx provider was well worth it. He learned that Dr. James Leiber had served in the White House treating senior staff before being trained by Regenexx in orthopedic stem cell therapies. Dr. Lieber explained to Michael that there were very promising treatments that in many cases could help serious back problems and prevent surgery.

Dr. Leiber recommended both Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Regenexx stem cell procedures. PRP has been around since the 1970s and stem cell injections for about 10 years. PRP is widely used in sports medicine. Blood is drawn and put in a centrifuge. The platelets are separated out and then injected at the point of injury.

Dr. Julian Whitaker, longtime proponent of PRP, explains how it works: “Once at the site of injury, platelets release a host of proteins, peptides, and other healing compounds. These include clotting factors to stop bleeding, inflammatory chemicals to drive the acute phase of the healing process, and growth factors to promote tissue regeneration and the formation of blood vessels that nourish new tissues.”

Michael had PRP injections at a dozen points along his back. He was very sore for a week or two, and then started feeling better and regaining mobility and strength. Most significantly, the back pain lessened.

He went back to Dr. Leiber for another evaluation, and this time had Regenexx stem cell injections. Stem cells were taken from bone marrow in his hip, and then they were injected into his back. He was even more sore this time, but again, after a week or two, started feeling better. Nine months after his last injection, he believes he’s back to full health.

“I have absolutely zero pain,” Michael says. “I could hardly believe it at first. You don’t even realize how much pain you’ve been dealing with until it’s gone. I can’t even tell you how good it felt. I’m amazed.”

On top of that, the total cost for Michael’s therapy was about $10,000. If he had chosen spinal fusion surgery, it could have easily cost $50,000 or more, according to Plus, the Regnexx therapy actually cost less than the estimates Michael received for other stem cell injections that are not as extensive as Regenexx’s methods (see facing page).

Regenexx leads way in developing orthopedic stem cell therapies

About half of the published medical literature on orthopedic stem cell therapies references Regenexx methods and data. What sets them apart?

Regenexx often posts videos on YouTube like the one above to explain. Regenexx founder, Dr. Chris Centeno says: “Everyone else that doesn’t do Regenexx has a separate little bedside machine. You take blood or bone marrow and put it in there. All the doctor does is shut the lid and push the ‘on’ button. It’s not real complex. The doctor can’t customize your sample to get what he needs to treat you.

In contrast, every Regenexx provider goes through an extensive training program to learn about the latest laboratory and imaging techniques. The lab equipment allows Regenexx clinicians to count platelets and stem cells, so the dose being injected is known. The quantity of cells is especially important for determining how many injections can be done.

Regenexx methods also capture a secondary population of stem cells in the bone marrow that most providers discard. Regenexx filed for a patent on their processes which can generate 10-20 times more cells than the simple centrifuge method

Another important distinction is that Regenexx uses the latest ultrasound, X-ray, and thoroscopy imaging techniques. Real-time imaging helps Regenexx doctors to guide the needle to precise locations when the injections are done. Other doctors often have to put the needle in blindly, or do their best based on a static image.

Dr. Centeno says, “It’s very, very important that doctors have training in advanced imaging techniques for the placement of needles and cells.”

Regenexx also posts the latest outcomes of their patients on their website, so anyone can see what the patients themselves are saying about how stem cells improved their conditions.

More and more patients are choosing stem cell therapies instead of surgery for all the major joint problems: knee, hip, shoulder, spine, hand, wrist, foot, ankle, and elbow. Regenexx’s goal is to make most surgeries obsolete, and transform orthopedics from a surgical speciality into a “percutaneous” (injection based) speciality.

Visit to find the certified provider that is nearest you.

This article is for educational purposes and not meant as medical advice.