Stem Cell Therapy vs. Joint Replacement for Knee Pain

Stem Cell Therapy vs. Joint Replacement for Knee Pain

Sitting, standing, walking, driving—those with knee pain know how much harder it can make doing the things we need to do every day. Traditional joint replacement can make a real difference, as can regenerative procedures, such as stem cell therapy, that use your own adult stem cells to naturally repair damage. Knee pain is debilitating and often tough to manage on your own, but navigating all of the potential treatment options can leave patients confused and wondering which option is right for them. In particular, patients struggle to decide between joint replacement and regenerative options, such as stem cell therapy, to manage their pain.

Read on to see if stem cell therapy or joint replacement is the right treatment for your knee pain. 


While stem cell therapy and knee replacement surgery are both straightforward procedures from an orthopedic standpoint, knee replacement surgery has a higher success rate at the cost of being significantly more invasive. Stem cell therapy is regenerative, meaning that it helps your body rebuild the damage in your knees naturally using your own adult stem cells. Because some people’s bodies react differently to stem cell therapy, the success of the procedure, in terms of pain alleviation, will vary by patient. To learn more about stem cell therapy, visit Dr. Carlson’s page, Using Adult Stem Cells For The Treatment Of Pain, then check out the video below the Mayo Clinic explaining the procedure:

Recovery Time

Perhaps one of the most significant differences between stem cell therapy and knee replacement surgery is the amount of recovery time required of each procedure. Because a knee replacement is such a significant surgery, the recovery time can take months. One of the major advantages of stem cell therapy is that patients generally see a much smaller reduction in their mobility as a result of the procedure. This translates to a shorter recovery period and significantly more freedom for patients following therapy sessions when compared to patients who undergo joint replacement surgeries.


Despite the fact that medical practitioners have used stem cells for decades in the treatment of various diseases, their use as a treatment for pain is relatively new. Due to the cutting-edge nature of regenerative medicine, many insurance companies do not yet cover stem cell therapy as a treatment for pain. However, Medicare and private insurance do  generally cover the majority of the costs associated with knee replacement surgery as a method of pain management. The cost of stem cell treatment varies based on which procedure is performed.

If you’re coping with knee pain and are interested in either of these options, make an appointment to see one of our specialists to find the treatment plan that works best for you.