SEATTLE — Joint injuries and chronic pain are often treated surgically. While that might be the right option, depending on the patient, some people are seeing big improvements using less-invasive stem cell therapy.

When stem cells are injected into a damaged joint, they release proteins that decrease inflammation and trigger the growth of new connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. The body is "tricked" into a second chance at healing. In the case of osteoarthritis, injecting stem cells restores the body's natural ability to heal itself.

"It's an undifferentiated cell that has a couple of different characteristics," says Pinnacle Integrative Health's Dr. Daniel Rasmussen, "It can program into different tissue types which stimulates healing and regenerative capacities of the body."

Elizabeth Haddon had been experiencing chronic hip pain for years when her doctor told her she was headed toward surgery. She started researching alternatives, and a friend recommended Pinnacle Health, "I went to some seminars, read the web site, talked with people, and did as much research as I could on my own until I felt like this, to me, is really preferable to surgery."

Potential patients undergo orthopedic examination to find out if they are a good candidate for the procedure, "There's a window of opportunity where it'll work," says Dr. Rasumssen, "If they're still in what we call the early-stages to mid-stages of arthritis, those are the best candidates by far."

The stem cells used for therapy at Pinnacle Integrative Health come from donated umbilical cord tissue and blood. "Its a very rich concentrated source of stem cells that are very safely donated," explains Dr. Rasmussen, "They don't have any issues with host-graft rejection so they're very safely donated across the board."

The injection itself is guided by ultrasound. Elizabeth had some anxiety going into the procedure, but says it ended up just fine, "Maybe there was a couple of times I had to take a deep breath, but not in a clutching, deep breath."

The recovery process was smooth, she just felt a tired, and she has seen definite improvement as a result. She no longer feels, "electric pain", when she walks.

Dr. Rassmussen says patients that had the treatment four years ago are still going strong, "The research suggests that the better you take care of it, if that healing takes place, the longer it will last."

Pinnacle Integrative Health holds free seminars every month for patients who want to learn more about how stem cell therapy can help with chronic pain. Go to www.stemcelltherapyforpain.com and search for seminars in Seattle area.

This segment is brought to you by Pinnacle Integrative Health. Watch KING 5's New Day Northwest 11:00 weekdays and streaming live on KING5.com. Connect with New Day via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.