Degenerative joint disease — also called osteoarthritis — is the wearing away of the cartilage between any of the joints in a person’s body. Age, obesity and injury can all contribute to osteoarthritis, with symptoms ranging from intermittent discomfort and stiffness to the weakening of muscles and ligaments and erosion of bone that ultimately lead to ineffective, as well as chronically painful, joint function.
Treating osteoarthritis has traditionally relied on medication and rest and/or physical therapy aimed at strengthening the tissue surrounding the affected joint. And since cartilage does not spontaneously regrow, when these treatments fail, the last option was surgery to replace the diseased joint with an artificial one. Today, patients have another option: stem cell therapy.
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What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell procedures have been around for more than half a century and used successfully to treat many blood disorders and cancers. Continuing research into stem cells, however, means other ways to use them are being discovered and validated. Such is the case with stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis. In this type of treatment, stem cells are harvested from a patient’s own body, combined with other biologics such as growth factors, cytokines and platelet rich plasma (PRP), and then injected back into the patient’s body at the point of tissue degeneration in order to facilitate the regeneration of healthy tissue.
Can Osteoarthritis Be Cured by Stem Cell Therapy?
Because research has demonstrated that stem cells have the ability to “morph” into cells like those that surround them, we know that they have the capacity to initiate the production of new cartilage cells when introduced into cartilage tissue. This is exciting news as it corroborates the possible regenerative properties of stem cells when used to treat many “wear and tear” diseases like osteoarthritis, which have historically suffered with few effective treatment options..
How Stem Cells Can Improve Osteoarthritis
Stem cells have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties and, thus, have the ability to reduce inflammation, improve joint mobility and lessen pain. This potential to modulate the body’s immune responses indicates that they also have the ability to regulate cell death and improve blood supply (especially when combined with cytokines and other biologics which further encourage cellular communication). The end result: stem cells have the capacity to stimulate cellular growth within damaged tissue and improve overall wound healing, thereby alleviating many degenerative effects.
Want to Learn More?
Continued research into stem cells and osteoarthritis means treatment options for degenerative conditions are more robust than ever. To learn more about stem cell therapy and its potential for improving osteoarthritis symptoms, please contact our office. We carefully review all our patient’s individual histories and can help you choose a treatment plan with the most potential for success.