Osteoarthritis is a condition where the articular cartilage in your joints has worn down. This cartilage is the tissue that protects bones where they meet to create joints. When cartilage wears away, bone is exposed and can be damaged. There are several other names for this type of arthritis; they include terms like “wear-and-tear arthritis” and “degenerative arthritis”, both of which describe the nature of the condition.

People who suffer from osteoarthritis will have to cope with pain and limited function in the affected joint. Osteoarthritis can affect any of the joints in your body, but the areas where it usually occurs are the hips, knees and lower back. There are several treatment options for osteoarthritis but no cure. Of the treatment options, the most widely used are pain management and joint replacement surgery. In recent years, a more non-invasive treatment alternative has come along in the form of stem cell therapy.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy makes use of your body’s ability to heal itself. When an injury occurs, stem cells are what the body uses to help heal the injured area. However, after an injury or prolonged period of arthritis, the stem cells can longer penetrate the affected area and pain and loss of motion ensues. By injecting stem cells directly at the point of the injury, the healing and regenerative process can begin immediately.

The stem cells are taken from the patient’s own Adipose tissue (fat tissue usually from the hip or stomach) that contains a high concentration of mesenchymal stem cells which are adult stem cells. A simple drawing of blood is needed from the patient’s own fat cells, then placed into a centrifuge to separate the correct cells out and prepare them for reintroduction into the injured area.

Stem Cell Therapy’s Benefits for Patients

  • It is a fast procedure. You may be able to have your stem cell therapy injections administered within single a day
  • It will not require you to undergo general anesthesia. The area where the stem cells will be injected will be numbed with a local anesthetic
  • Stem cell therapy is a noninvasive alternative for those who do not wish to undergo surgery
  • Adipose-derived stem cells have anti-inflammatory benefits; they may also be able to slow down the degeneration of cartilage and speed up the healing process
  • The risk of infection or of rejection by the immune system is greatly reduced since the therapy uses the patient’s own stem cells
  • The rich supply of stem cells in adipose tissue means that stem cells are never in short supply
  • Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis has none of the risk of serious complications that can come with joint replacement surgery. Potential risks of surgery include the fact that patients have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Stem therapy does not have the long recovery period associated with joint replacement surgery. Patients may even be able to walk immediately after having the procedure performed.

How Stem Cell Therapy is Administered?

The doctor will first extract the stem cells from the adipose tissue on your stomach or hip. The point of the injury will be identified using image guidance technology. The stem cells will be injected into your joint at the site of the damage. Image guidance will be used again to guide the needle to the injury site thus ensuring precise placement of the stem cells. The use of image guidance also helps to ensure that no further damage is done to the injured joint.

Stem cell therapy may be administered alongside other nonsurgical osteoarthritis treatments such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy. In some cases, dextrose may be injected into the injured joint as well. Dextrose can help to get the injured joint get ready for the healing process that will be started by the stem cells. The PRP will be provided afterward to help the stem cells to remain active. While most patients respond to just one stem cell treatment, in some cases it may be necessary to administer 2-3. Multiple treatments are more likely to be used in severe cases.

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