What Can Stem Cell Therapy Do For Arthritis?
The debate continues about the true healing power of stem cells, with some critics demanding clinical trials before accepting the validity of successful case studies. With stem cell therapy being called the “miracle cure” for a vast array of conditions, the application of stem cells in knee and joint health has produced several positive studies.
With arthritis, the cartilage protecting the joint deteriorates, resulting in pain and reduced function. In fact, arthritis and other similar autoimmune disorders are a leading cause of disability in the United States. An estimated 600,000 Americans turn to knee replacement as their only solution every year… until recently.
An increasing number of patients are finding successful treatment through stem cell therapy, not only finding relief from the pain in their knees but also repairing damaged cartilage, and ultimately avoiding surgery.
As in any new area of medical science, as treatment protocols develop and improve, the results are expected to improve with expanding applications as well.
Adult stem cells renew and replenish tissue, as damaged and dying cells need to be replaced. Blood flow supports this process, and in areas of the body with limited blood supply (like the knee), stem cells are more challenged to do this well. In cases like this, they can be injected in concentrated numbers, giving stem cells the opportunity to support the body’s own healing process.
Cartilage is vital to protect joints and ensure smooth movement between surfaces, and minimize friction of moving parts. The cartilage cushions bone joints from shock, absorbing up to 20 times the weight of the body. When arthritis attacks a joint, the deterioration and inflammation results in an unstable joint, causing increased friction, leading to pain and potentially damage to the bone itself.
Stem cell injections are minimally invasive and bring relief
Extracted from bone marrow or adipose tissue, adult stem cells are isolated before the concentrated cells are then injected into the problem area of the knee.
Patients in one study were injected with mesenchymal stem cells and showed marked improvement at only 6 months after treatment. Five years after treatment, while the natural deterioration of their joints continued, their knees were still in better condition than before they had the initial treatment.
Stem cell therapy for the knee is believed to be successful because the injected stem cells:
- Develop into crucial new cartilage
- Prevent inflammation which further aggravates arthritis
- Introduce cytokines, a protein that slows degeneration of cartilage and helps reduce pain
Research continues to identify the ideal combination of therapy techniques, cell sources, and dosages that will produce the most beneficial results on a consistent basis.
But are there side effects?
Stem cell treatment for knees is considered minimally invasive and patients report feeling pressure or only slight discomfort during treatment. Side effects are minimal with the most common experiences limited to mild pain at the injection site, swelling and temporary joint stiffness.
A survey of facilities in the U.S. that offer stem cell therapy for knees reveals average costs between $3000 to $5000 per knee. Currently most insurance companies and coverage plans do not cover stem cell treatments. As with many innovations, as it becomes mainstream practice and success stories gain exposure proving the effectiveness of the process, costs will likely reduce and acceptance will increase.
The effectiveness and cost savings associated with stem cell therapy for arthritis in knees are impressive. Patients generally complete the treatment in a single visit after an initial consultation, followed by a check-up. The full process – extraction, concentration and injection – takes approximately two to three hours.
How safe is it?
Specialists agree that while stem cell therapy in some areas of the body can pose risks, treatment on the knees is considered relatively safe.
Using adult stem cells extracted from your own body also reduces the risk of a bad reaction.
And don’t forget, there are ways that you can nurture and support your own body’s production of stem cells – through diet, fasting and supplements. With stem cells, arthritis sufferers have a chance of avoiding knee surgery and living pain-free.
We hope this serves you well!
To your health,
The Healing Miracle Team
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