Osteoarthritis is a type of chronic disease which affects multiple joints with different degrees of severity. It affects more than 25 million people in the United States with around $90 billion being spent on its treatment.
With the help of modern medicine, the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis such as pain and stiffness can be treated without affecting the disease’s progression. An increase in ‘injection centers’ all over the country has been witnessed to offer patients shots of viscosupplementation, protein rich with platelets and stem cell therapy.
Stem cell therapy is the new-age treatment for pain management however those receiving it understand very little of it. Dr. Tom Macek attempts to demystify stem cells and their effectiveness in treating joint pain in this article.
Stem Cell Therapy and Relieving Joint Pain
Mesenchymal stem cells or stem cells for short are new cells which have not been assigned a function yet. They can be deputed to the bone, fat, cartilage or other connective tissues. Stem cells are the key players in the reparative processes that take place throughout the human body. They are collected from fat tissue, umbilical cords, bone marrow and synovial tissue.
Stem cells are thought to improve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis due to their anti-inflammatory properties. It is also believed that stem cells decrease the number of dead cells and reduce fibrous tissue formation. The cells can grow into bone and cartilage. They are reparative in nature which is why it is assumed that the cells can change the destructive processes that take place in osteoarthritic patients.
Many studies have been conducted where the stem cell injections were combined with arthroscopic techniques to observe the regenerative capacity of the stem cells. It showed that the stem cells’ anti-inflammatory properties had a reparative effect on the joints. Subjects in other studies have reported feeling pain relief for over a year after taking stromal stem cell injections combined with platelet-rich plasma. The analysis of 18 studies showed the stem cell injections effectively treated knee joint pain for up to 24 months after an arthroscopic debridement was performed to remove damaged tissue or in cases where the osteoarthritic effects to the knee were mild.
Stem cell injections may have some drawbacks which include pain in the area where stem cells are harvested from, costs of prohibition and other potential harmful effects. These effects include risk of infection, malignancy and death; although no such cases have yet been recorded.
Current research shows stem cell injections are safe and it is hoped that advanced carriers can be developed to improve the efficacy of the treatment by mitigating the potential for adverse effects.
Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for joint pain but there is still much more to learn about the pathways and causes of osteoarthritis.
Once more is known about the symptoms associated with this disease the technology can be improved to help patients suffering from chronic pain all over the world.
Are you interested in Stem Cell Therapy?
Learn more HERE, Contact us or Book an Appointment with Dr. Tom Macek for a consultation.