There’s still a good amount of controversy surrounding the topic of stem cell research and usage. However, despite these ethical issues, stem cells do show fantastic promise as a potential treatment for several conditions, including arthritis.
However, before you can safely invest in stem cell therapies, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the concept of stem cells. It’s also essential to educate yourself on their benefits and potential risks.
Without further ado, let’s explore stem cells to discover how stem cell treatments might help lessen pain associated with arthritis in the hands and knees.
What Are Stem Cells?
While you’ve likely heard of stem cells, you may not be aware that there are two primary types of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells (also called fetal cells) tend to be more controversial than adult stem cells, which is why they’re not used in the US.
As such, we’ll focus on adult stem cells. These can be found in perinatal tissue, such as the placenta or umbilicord from live healthy births, or in our own bone marrow, blood, or adipose tissue.
In a way, stem cells are carte blanche cells. Embryonic stem cells are known to be able to morph into any human cell, and adult stem cells aren’t far behind. For this reason, stem cells are often used to help treat degenerative diseases, like arthritis.
Stem cells are also used being used to treat otherwise untreatable conditions, including Parkinson’s Disease. Still, treatment options do vary from clinic to clinic, which is why it’s crucial to spend a little time researching your treatment options.
Perinatal Stem Cells
When a woman gives birth, she delivers a child and a placenta. The placenta is often attached to the infant via an umbilical cord. While these types of tissues are crucial to a child’s early development and gestation, they’re not needed after birthing.
As such, most hospitals simply toss amniotic remnants into the biological waste bin. However, placentas and umbilical cords are chock-full of perinatal stem cells. These special cells are classified as progenitor stem cells. Even though they have matured to the point where they are considered adult cells, they have not yet differentiated and can still become various types of tissue.
What Are Stem Cell Treatments?
Typical stem cell treatments include injections. However, injection sites are bound to vary among patients. That’s because stem cells are injected into the joint, or tissue that requires regenerative help.
Those with painful chronic arthritis in their knees or hands may receive stem cell injections directly into their joints. This process can be painful depending on the amount of inflammation in the joint, but the pain typically wears off after a few minutes. It may take a few months before the benefits of stem cell therapy are noticed by the patient as it takes time for the new tissue to generate. Stem cell therapy is not a quick fix solution, but it has many advantages over surgery.
For many patients one stem cell injection can provide lasting relief for years provided the patient does not reinjure the area or do anything to cause further damage.
Potential Benefits of Stem Cell Treatments
Stem cell treatments, or stem cell therapies, pose several potential benefits. While we’ve touched on the regenerative qualities of stem cells, we haven’t truly focused on their outright benefits.
This is because stem cells are still a novel treatment method. Research is ongoing, so the potential benefits of stem cell therapies will likely increase as time goes on.
Still, some of the benefits that are most often reported include:
- Lessened pain in joints
- Regeneration of neurons
- Increased natural insulin production
- Tissue and organ regeneration
In general, stem cells are powerful tools that may help treat a wide variety of illnesses and diseases. That’s because adult stem cells can transform themselves into almost any human cell. Stem cell therapies are often used to treat:
As stated above, clinical research is still being conducted. As such, stem cell treatments may also be used to help treat organ damage, premature aging, and other types of physical illness and deterioration.
For now, stem cells seem to be most helpful for those suffering from blood-related disorders or conditions stemming from aging. Still, the federal government and its related agencies are on the fence when it comes to stem cell usage.
Stem Cell Treatment Safety Risks
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed some potential safety risks that could affect patients who attempt stem cell therapies or injections. Some of the most commonly reported side effects of stem cell treatments include:
- Skin irritation or redness near the injection site
- Inappropriate stem cell travel
Some treatments may also fail to produce any kind of noticeable effect, which can be disappointing. Considering the relative cost of stem cell injections, it can be emotionally and financially debilitating to experience an ineffective treatment.
Fortunately, consulting with a reputable organization or medical provider can help reduce the chance of experiencing unwanted stem cell treatment side effects.
Learn More About Stem Cell Injections
As we age, our natural cartilage and joint fluid levels decrease and wear away. Eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of rest, and exercising each day could help you prevent several conditions, including debilitating arthritis.
The subject of stem cells is still somewhat contentious. But stem cell treatments are quickly becoming more accessible and accepted. Individuals with chronic arthritis in their hands or knees may benefit from stem cell injections.
If you’re eager to learn more about stem cell therapy, be sure to reach out and contact us today!