Suffering from Osteoarthritis? How Stem Cell Treatments Could Help

Posted on: 21 May 2020

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease that wears down joints and the protective cartilage on the end of bones. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, you might have pain and stiffness in your back, knees, hips, neck, and hands.

While some people can find relief through physical therapy and medications, this isn't always an option. One treatment you could try is stem cell therapy.

What Are Stem Cells?

In layman's terms, stem cells are the building blocks for all other cells. When these cells grow and divide, they can become differentiated and take on specific functions in the blood, bones, skin, nerves, liver, and more.

How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help People with Osteoarthritis?

Stem cells have self-renewal properties, meaning that they can be used to treat degenerative conditions, like osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy can be used to

  • Encourage new cell growth in cartilage cells that are breaking down
  • Slow down degeneration
  • Relieve pain
  • Suppress inflammatory responses

While doctors still have a lot to learn about stem cell therapies, the good news is that there have been some promising studies. An abstract from one study showed that patients with arthritic knees were able to see cartilage regeneration. These patients were also able to improve their knee function and decrease their pain levels without having adverse side effects.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Stem Cell Treatment?

You'll need to consult with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of this therapy and see if you're a good candidate. However, you may be a good candidate for this therapy if you want to avoid surgery, still having pain with medication, or have tried other avenues of treatment without success.

Some patients have ethical concerns about embryonic stem cells, but keep in mind that this isn't the only source. Doctors mainly use stem cells from adult adipose (fat) tissue and bone marrow. Doctors can also create Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS), which are actually derived from an adult's blood or skin and manipulated back into an embryonic-like state for therapeutic purposes.

What Is Stem Cell Therapy Like?

Some doctors may inject stem cells into the affected site. Your doctor may recommend platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP) along with stem cell therapy since the platelets can aid and accelerate healing. Stem cell therapy can also be administered intravenously. Whatever method your doctor uses, the procedure is simple and won't require an overnight hospital stay.

Contact a health professional in your area to learn more about stem cell treatment ​and how you can treat your osteoarthritis without surgery.