Major League Baseball Player Gets Major Help from Stem Cells
Posted on April 27, 2018
Stem cell treatment may bring San Diego Giants pitcher Mark Melancon a reprieve from injured reserve status after an unrelenting forearm injury.
Melancon recently underwent a regenerative medical procedure and stem cell injection to repair the pronator in his right forearm, according to his manager, Bruce Bochy. The pronator is the muscle found in the forearm that allows the forearm to turn, or pronate, to the upward prone position.
Melancon traveled from California to Pensacola, Fla., for the stem cell treatment.
Bochy remains hopeful for a recovery for the 33-year-old pitcher.
Melancon moved from the field to the injured list after a strain of his elbow flexor on March 28, the day before the Giants’ season opener against the Dodgers.
Melancon played earlier in the spring during the exhibition games of the Cactus League but was plagued by pain in his arm.
In 2017, Melancon underwent surgery to help ease the pain and feeling of compression he was experiencing.
He was also put on the disabled list twice last year for his forearm injury.
“Strains and tears in muscles can become chronically painful, especially when under constant use such as pitching and practicing during baseball season,” said Dr. Joel Singer.
Singer is a New York physician using stem cells to treat strains and other musculoskeletal injuries.
“Repeated use is one of the most common causes of muscle pain, tears, tendonitis and strains. Tears usually start out very small and then get bigger with continued use,” Singer said.
These injuries do not only happen at the ball field or to professional athletes, either.
“These injuries can develop from using a hammer, swinging a golf club or turning a wrench, too,” Singer said.
The symptoms of these injuries typically begin with pain, tightness and stiffness caused by inflammation from repeated use. Over time, the symptoms can progress to include limited function or complete loss of function.
Many people with muscle injuries seek treatment, but conventional therapies often work for a limited time or do not work at all. These treatments include ice, the use of pain relievers and NSAIDs, and rest.
“Rest is not something that many people can do for too long, especially a Major League baseball player,” Singer said.
This is where stem cell therapy comes in.
Using stem cells taken from the injured patient’s adipose fat tissue through a specialized liposuction procedure, Singer injects the cells into the injured area. The stem cells then begin to repair the muscles, tendons and other connective tissue damaged by repeated use.
“Injured tissue sends out a beacon to the body to send help for repair using special proteins known as growth factors. The stem cells read these growth factors as a signal to begin repair,” Singer said.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells of a multicellular organism with the ability to develop into different types of tissue. Stem cells also can regenerate themselves continuously, making them a valuable tool for repairing injured or diseased tissue that has stopped responding to conventional treatments.
“Conventional treatments for muscle injuries work to reduce pain and inflammation. They do not regenerate new muscle tissue or fix damaged tissue as stem cells can,” Singer said.
Stem cells also can reduce inflammation, which relieves pain and improves range of motion for many individuals.
Stem cell therapy has additional benefits; it allows patients to avoid or at least delay the need surgery.
“If muscle injuries persist, they could eventually require surgery, which also means long recovery times and risks of complications. Stem cell therapy helps to restore damaged tissue without the downtime of surgery,” Singer said.
MLB News. Melancon gets stem-cell injection in forearm. 12 April 2018.