If you've struggled with osteoarthritis of the knee for years, you may assume that the only way to obtain permanent relief is through a partial or total knee replacement. And because knee replacements are vulnerable to wear and tear over the years, many orthopedic surgeons are reluctant to perform this procedure on someone who is likely to need yet another replacement a few decades down the road. Fortunately, a promising new technology may be able to stem some of the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Learn more about how stem cell treatment is being incorporated into the orthopedic realm.
How Are Stem Cells Used to Regenerate Knee Tissue?
Scientists and physicians have known of stem cells' nearly mythological properties for decades. Captured at the very beginning of cell development, these stem cells have the ability to transform into just about any type of tissue imaginable. As a result, stem cell treatments are becoming a popular way to help regenerate tissue that's been lost to damage or disease.
For example, someone suffering from liver damage can benefit from a stem cell infusion. When these cells are injected into the liver, they're "triggered" to begin regenerating healthy tissue, allowing the organ to essentially heal itself from within. By doing the same thing to the knee, stem cells can repair damage to the meniscus, ACL, or other connective tissue to reduce the bone-on-bone impact.
Best of all, stem cells can be derived from your own body, eliminating the risk of rejection (as seen in bone marrow or organ transplants).
What Does This Treatment Entail?
Your stem cell treatment protocol will depend on the condition for which you're seeking treatment, the severity of your pain, your age, and your overall health. In some cases, stem cell therapy may be combined with other treatment methods, like a steroid injection to reduce inflammation or physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles.
First, your orthopedist will harvest and prepare your stem cells. (In some cases, you may be able to use donor stem cells that match your blood type — but most physicians prefer to use your own.) These stem cells will be processed into a plasma-like substance and prepared for infiltration. You'll then receive several injections in and around your knee. During this process, you may experience some discomfort or a feeling of warmth.
After the process is complete, you'll be told to take it easy for a few days to avoid injuring your knee while the stem cells do their work. You may be able to feel results in as little as a week or two, and unlike steroid injections or other pain relief, the effect of your stem cell treatment should be long-lasting.
For more information, contact a clinic that offers knee pain stem cell therapy.