Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) of the knee and joint pain can occur at almost any age, whether you are a youngster who is playing baseball or soccer, an older person who has been playing tennis or running for years, or you have a job that requires kneeling, squatting, or heavy lifting. Those activities cause excessive strain on the tendons, muscles and ligaments of the knee around the cartilage, which is largely responsible for stability, and freedom of movement. Women over fifty-five seem to be more prone to develop the problem than men. In any case, the constant use of those knee joints can wear down the cartilage that cushions the bones to a point where normal activity is severely curtailed.
Joint pain symptoms vary with individuals, and the onset can be quite sudden, but for most people it’s a gradual onset. Joint pain when you get up in the morning or after any period of inactivity may be the first clue, and then certain activities may be increasingly uncomfortable, such as climbing stairs, or taking a walk. Even the weather can bring on joint pain for some people. Swelling or tenderness can signal osteoarthritis, as can instability of the joint, making it downright dangerous to walk. The joint may even lock so movement is impossible for a time. In rare cases, there may even be a deformity in the knee. When any of these things happen, the joint pain and/or limitation of movement will inevitably send the sufferer to a physician for relief.
While surgery is a very common solution to this problem, there is a restorative treatment available that is causing a lot of excitement among orthopedic docs, and that is stem cell therapy. A recent study proclaimed:
- Stem cell therapy is simple
- Does not require hospitalization or surgery
- Provides pain relief
- And significantly improves cartilage quality.
In stem cell therapy procedure for knee osteoarthritis, amniotic stem cells are injected into the patient’s knee with the hope of repairing cartilage and bone damage typical of a knee with severe osteoarthritis. The procedure is simple in concept: inject stem cells, heal knee.
It is becoming more and more apparent that amniotic stem cell therapy will be the orthopedic treatment of choice for a new generation of orthopedists and pain management doctors. A recent study confirmed that one injection of stem cells into the knees of thirty patients with osteochondral lesions of the knee (a cracked or chipped joint bone next to the cartilage) resulted in regeneration of the lesion site that was still in effect three years later.
Writing in the medical journal, Arthroscopy, researcher surgeons found that the results of their study showed: “intra-articular injection of …mesenchyme stem cells is effective for reducing pain and improving knee function in patients being treated for knee osteoarthritis.”
The injections work better than the surgical introduction of stem cells. In research published by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, doctors have found that a single stem cell injection following meniscus knee surgery may provide knee and joint pain relief and aid in meniscus regrowth. In this study, patients received a single injection of amniotic stem cells following the surgical removal of all or part of a torn meniscus. These patients reported a significant reduction in joint pain. Further, some meniscal tissue regrew! Up to fifteen percent increase in meniscal volume at one year. There was no additional increase in meniscal volume at year two.
In the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons’ press release was the following statement by the study’s author, Dr. Vangsness: “The results of this study suggest that mesenchyme stem cells have the potential to improve the overall condition of the knee joint. I am very excited and encouraged” by the results.” There are two sources for stem cells: (1) the amniotic stem cells donated by healthy mothers at the time of scheduled cesarean section, and (2) from the patient’s own bone marrow. In the case of amniotic stem cells, expectant mothers submit to rigorous pre-screening of their past medical and social history according to FDA guidelines, and the cells are removed from the placenta surrounding the embryo at the time of delivery. Trained technicians using the aseptic technique perform the recovery.