Each year, a rising number of patients around the world are undergoing hip replacement surgery. A heightened focus on physical activity, as well as improved treatment technologies, mean patients have a need — and doctors, the instruments and skills — for surgically treating hip joint damage. The result: more surgical hip replacements.
Share this Post
Although the hip is one of the body’s most rugged and durable joints, capable of withstanding repetitive motion for many, many years, it is not immune to the effects of trauma, disease and/or chronic overuse, making it highly likely that most adults will experience hip pain at some point in their lives. Conditions such as a pinched nerve, infection, or cancer can certainly lead to hip pain, as can traumatic injuries resulting in fractures and sprains, but one of the most common causes of chronic hip pain is the result of a natural degenerative process called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the wearing down of the cartilage between our bones. It can affect anyone, but certain factors increase an individual’s risk of it such as being older, female, overweight, and/or having bone deformities or certain diseases. Furthermore, osteoarthritis has been shown to run in families, with repeated stress or injury to a joint further increasing any person’s overall risk.
Most people choose hip replacement surgery following an injury or prolonged pain due to arthritis. After years of struggling with debilitating pain that restricts their daily living, many believe a total hip replacement is the only option. Although hip replacement surgery can be a highly effective treatment for some patients, the procedure can come along with some complications that make it less than ideal for others. Some reasons a patient could want an alternative to hip replacement surgery include:
- A patient can outlive a hip replacement and need it to be redone at a later, older, more frail time of life
- Debris can leak out from the replacement parts
- Chronic pain after a replacement is still possible
- Patients who undergo hip surgery risk having a suboptimal quality of life post-surgery
- Complications are fairly common
- Non-surgical methods have high success rates in the right patients
- A patient may be interested in holistic or all natural medicine and want to avoid traditional surgery or foreign parts in their bodies
If you have hip pain due to degenerative arthritis, there are alternatives to hip replacement surgery that extend beyond physical therapy, pain relievers, and surgery: stem cell therapy. Indeed, as research continues to provide evidence for the restorative impact of stem cells, regenerative medicine has been thrown into the forefront of viable options for treating chronic hip pain. Read on for more information on a proven, state of the art, minimally invasive alternative to hip replacement surgery.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
Arthritis causes inflammation and damage to joint surfaces and other body systems. When it settles in the hip, it erodes cartilage and bone, limiting mobility, and making it difficult for the afflicted person to walk and even sleep. Many believe that the removal of the joint is the only way to alleviate the associated pain. In fact, however, there are several non-surgical options that can help treat arthritic symptoms:
- Pain Medication – including over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen and prescribed opioids/narcotics; muscle relaxants, topical creams, steroid injections and even antidepressants
- Rest – which can help alleviate inflammation and reduce pain sensation and depression (that often heightens pain sensitivity)
- Physical Therapy – which can strengthen surrounding soft tissues and provide stability to the hip and flexibility to the surrounding muscles and tendons
There is also one minimally invasive technique that has the capacity to promote tissue repair:
Regenerative Medicine – including PRP and stem cell therapy
How Regenerative Medicine Offers Natural Alternatives to Hip Replacement
Regenerative medicine is a branch of medical science that explores the processes by which cells and tissues can be repaired, replaced, or regrown. Here at ThriveMD, we use regenerative medicine to treat hip pain in two ways:
- Stem Cell Therapy — Stem cells are the body’s way of creating new cells, and regenerative medicine is a way of harvesting and using stem cells. When being used to treat hip degeneration, stem cells are taken from the patient’s own body. Once removed from the patient, these stem cells are combined with platelet-rich plasma (made with blood also drawn from the patient’s own body) and injected into the damaged area of the patient’s hip. Research shows that this stem cell aspirate has the capacity to stimulate the regeneration of cells, thus providing a natural alternative to hip replacement surgery.
- PRP Therapy — PRP or platelet-rich plasma is another regenerative (read: “natural alternative”) treatment option. Although not used singularly to treat chronic hip disease, PRP can be used in conjunction with stem cell therapy to help reduce inflammation and maximize pain relief. Its concentration of platelets, including proteins, cytokines, and growth factors, has the potential to stimulate improved cellular repair and healing when combined with stem cells and/or administered as a follow-up procedure to stem cell therapy.
Stem Cell Therapy is an Excellent Alternative to Hip Replacement Surgery
Stem cells are like nature’s building blocks; they allow for the differentiation of the body’s cells and form the foundation on which all tissues and organs develop. Many stem cells only exist in embryos, but some remain in adult bodies and can be harvested and used for regenerative purposes. As an alternative treatment for hip replacement surgery, adult stem cells are collected from a patient’s own body — usually adipose stem cells from the fatty tissues and bone marrow stem cells from the iliac crest. These stem cells are combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) made from the patient’s own blood to create an autologous injectate that is then injected into the patient’s hip joint under live x-ray guidance. Research shows that the introduction of stem cells in this way can facilitate the repair of damaged joint tissue, alleviating inflammation and pain and restoring the joint to more normal function (including improvements in range of motion). PRP or BMC can then be administered 1-2 months later as a follow-up to boost continued joint health.
ThriveMD is One of the Nation’s Top Stem Cell Clinics for Hip Pain
Hip replacement surgery is not the only option for hip arthritis sufferers; there are many alternatives to hip replacement surgery. Regenerative treatment approaches like stem cell therapy and any accompanying PRP injections mean many patients can forgo some of the risks and drawbacks associated with invasive surgery, including infection, extended hospital stays and prolonged rehabilitation. To find out if you or a loved one could benefit from minimally invasive stem cell therapy, please contact a member of our staff here at ThriveMD. Our director, Dr. Scott Brandt is a renowned physician with nearly 20 years of experience in pain management and regenerative medicine; he fully assesses all patient histories, symptoms, and relevant imaging and can recommend the best procedure for optimal results.