Stem cell procedure for knee arthritis is among the breakthrough orthopedic treatment methods invented in the last five decades. It holds immense significance for healing bone-on-bone degenerative injuries that come natural with age. Sports medicine takes recourse to stem cell procedure for knee arthritis to ensure complete healing and accelerate recovery from career-threatening sports injuries.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are mother cells that have the ability to develop into different types of cells human body. These cells are easily found in an adult and amniotic fluid and self-renew themselves. Stem cells frequently react to the environment in which they are placed. This means if they are placed into an area with damaged cartilage, for instance, they may be able to restore the damaged area.
How does stem cell therapy treat knee arthritis?
Knee arthritis occurs when the articular cartilage in the knee joint is damaged due to wear and tear or an inflammatory type of arthritis (e.g. rheumatoid, psoriatic). The damaged cartilage has very little chance of repairing itself, and cortisone injections do not repair anything.
Stem cells injected in to the knee cartilage may trigger development of new cells in the damaged area. These stem cells may differentiate into the necessary cartilage cells for repair, which may provide exceptional relief and increased function.
What are the advantages of stem cell therapy for knee arthritis over conventional treatment?
Natural healing and nonsteroidal
- Non-invasive, Nonsurgical
- No need to stay in the hospital
- Faster recovery
- Cell regeneration by the body itself
Where do stem cells come from?
Stem cells to treat knee arthritis may be obtained from any of the following three sources.
- Human Amniotic Fluid
- Bone Marrow
- Adipose Tissue or fat cells
Who is a suitable candidate for stem cell treatment?
Those with painful knee arthritis can undergo stem cell therapy into the knee. This may permit individuals to delay or avoid the need for surgery. Athletes looking to get back to their sport without surgery, or those with considerable arthritis looking to avoid a joint replacement are potential candidates.
Who is not a suitable candidate for stem cell procedures?
Those being treated with significant blood thinners, have active infection or cancer are not considered candidates for a stem cell procedure for the knee.
How are stem cells for knee treatment obtained?
Adult stem cells are either harvested from the bone marrow in the hip bones in an outpatient setting or from adipose tissue in the abdomen or buttock area.
The skin is numbed and a needle is inserted to obtain bone marrow from the hip, or adipose tissue depending on the area being used. This procedure takes about half an hour, and the material is then processed at the same setting. It is then injected directly into the knee being treated.
When it comes to amniotic stem cell therapy for knees, no harvesting is necessary. The fluid is obtained from consenting mothers after a scheduled c-section, and then processed at an FDA regulated lab. After processing, the fluid is cryogenically frozen until ready for use.
How do doctors perform stem cell therapy to treat knee arthritis?
After processing, the harvested stem cells are injected into the knee joint during the same setting. Numbing medicine is placed into the soft tissues to make the injection as painless as possible.
With regards to the amniotic procedure, the fluid is thawed out for about ten minutes prior to the procedure. The procedure is performed under sterile conditions. Image guidance is not necessary for the procedure, as the physician can aspirate synovial fluid to know the needle is in the joint.
Do I need any post-procedure care?
Stem cell procedures for knee arthritis are performed in an outpatient setting and it takes about an hour. Patients are discharged after kept under observation briefly. Patients are advised to avoid weight lifting and excessive stress on the knee for 1 to 2 days.
How well do stem cell procedures for knee arthritis work?
Stem cell procedures are widely used for sports and degenerative conditions. There have been lots of athletes to undergo stem cell procedures to prolong their careers or avoid the need for surgery and get back on the field quickly A 2008 study displayed excellent pain relief and healing ability of stem cell therapy compared to other treatment options for knee arthritis.
According to a research report published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, degradation of cartilage was overturned in a third of patients over a period of 12 months. In 2012, a report in the Expert Opinion in Biological Therapies detailed the efficacy of stem cells to regenerate knee joint cartilage damaged following arthritis.
A 2014 research reported in the Stem Cells journal found that intra-articular injection of stem cells reduced pain and cartilage defects and improved function of knee joints affected by arthritis. Another 2013 pilot study discovered that stem cell procedure for knee arthritis is a valid treatment alternative with no hospitalization and invasive surgery and bringing significant improvement for patients.
How many stem cells procedure will I require for knee arthritis?
In most cases, one-time stem cell treatment is enough to treat knee arthritis. However, depending on patient condition, your doctor may suggest more than one with a gap of several months.
How soon will I notice improvement?
Patients typically feel improvement within one to 4 weeks. However, complete healing takes time, as the process continues for months after the therapy.
What are the side effects of stem cell procedures for knee arthritis?
Complications are unusual and may include infection, bleeding, soreness and possibly that the procedure doesn’t work.
Orth P, Rey-Rico A, Venkatesan JK, et al. Current perspectives in stem cell research for knee cartilage repair. Stem Cells and Cloning : Advances and Applications. 2014;7:1-17.
Wyles CC, Houdek MT, Behfar A, et al. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis: current perspectives. Stem Cells and Cloning : Advances and Applications. 2015;8:117-124.
Orozco L, Munar A, Soler R, et al. Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with autologous mesenchymal stem cells: a pilot study. Transplantation. 2013 Jun 27;95(12):1535-41.
Jo CH, Lee YG, Shin WH. Intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a proof-of-concept clinical trial. Stem Cells. 2014 May;32(5):1254-66.