Two new options are now available locally at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon to help with chronic joint and soft tissue/musculoskeletal pain.  These new PRP and BMC/stem cell procedures both involve injections, and have been very successful in providing pain relief and/or delaying surgery. Dr. Dave Schwartz is the physician on the hospital’s staff who performs both of these procedures.    Both PRP and BMC/stem cell procedures are considered outpatient procedures, requiring a 1-3 hour hospital stay.   All procedures are performed in the hospital’s own surgery department. 

These new procedures provide patients with another option for pain control instead of only traditional means, such as surgery or pain pills. Both procedures involve injections, and have been successful in reducing or relieving pain, making it possible for many patients to enjoy benefits like being able to resume their normal activities or delay surgery. However, because insurance companies view these procedures as new and “experimental”, they are an out-of-pocket expense, and will NOT be turned into insurance.

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection is a procedure that utilizes the anti-inflammatory nature of the body’s own blood components to reduce inflammation and promote healing.  PRP injections involve taking blood from the patient, processing it to concentrate the platelets in the plasma, and then injecting it into the problem areas, such as the back, shoulders, SI joints, or knees. Inflammation and pain is reduced using the body’s own natural processes.  The patient is usually at the hospital for about an hour and a half for this procedure.  Other than the blood draw, this procedure is very similar to steroid/cortisone injections. 

The other procedure uses bone marrow concentrate (BMC), which contains stem cells, to promote healing and pain relief. The term “stem cell” is a general term, and can refer to variety of sources. VMH uses bone marrow obtained from the back of the patient’s hip bone. This is typically done under light sedation and local anesthetic. The procedure involves taking a small volume of the patient’s bone marrow, processing it, and then injecting it into the problem area.  This procedure may be a better option for long-term joint health.  PRP and BMC/stem cell procedures are frequently used hand in hand.   The length of stay for this procedure is about 2-3 hours.

Several studies have shown that stem cells will mature into new tissue, similar to their surroundings. For example, if injected into the knee, the stem cells may go on to form new cartilage over time, and help alleviate joint pain.  It is expected to take 6 months to one year to see the full benefits of that injection.

Patients receiving the BMC/stem cell procedure generally leave the hospital with minimal discomfort, but because there is IV sedation, they must arrange for a driver to take them home.  Patients receiving only PRP injections are able to drive themselves.

Dr. Dave Schwartz performs both of these procedures at VMH.  He recently spent time training in Los Angeles, CA, with Dr. Marc Darrow at the Darrow Stem Cell Institute.  Dr. Darrow has been offering PRP injections for the last 15 years, and stem cell injections for the last six years with many great outcomes.

“Dr. Darrow has a wealth of knowledge and experience and it was a privilege to spend time with him, one-on-one,” states Dr. Schwartz. “I have had a long-standing interest in stem cell injections.  Up to this point, our only option for many patients has been steroid injections which are helpful, but carry many side effects, or moving onto total joint replacement which is sometimes unsatisfactory.”

“These two new procedures allow for an opportunity to do something unique and different,” adds Dr. Schwartz.  “Many have been traveling a great distance for these procedures. Offering them locally is a positive for the hospital and the surrounding communities. Even the staff had expressed a lot of interest in offering these procedures.” Both kinds of injections are considered outpatient procedures, and are done in the hospital’s surgery department. The cost for each procedure is dependent on the type of procedure done, and the number of areas injected. Total cost is determined at the time of the consultation with Dr. Schwartz, and full payment is made the day of service.

For more information, please call the Veterans Memorial Hospital Surgical Coordinator at 563-568-3411, who can arrange for a consultation. 

Veterans Memorial Hospital


40 First St SE

Waukon, IA  52172

Veterans Memorial Hospital is a critical access hospital located in Waukon, a rural community in the very northeast corner of Iowa.