If you’re dealing with arthritis, your diagnosis may seem hopeless. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage over the ends of your bones, resulting in pain, decreased range of motion, and stiffness. But what if we told it may be possible to grow that cartilage back?
While it may not be for everyone, stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis is a promising treatment option. To some, the approach may seem relatively new, but some studies have shown that it may be possible to reverse the effects of osteoarthritis. Read on to learn more about this therapy and how it can help you with your arthritis.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells are sometimes refered to as the body’s master cells. They are simply cells that can become the different types of tissue our bodies need as we grow and can help repair damaged tissue when we are injured. These cells can form into many different types of cells: stomach, hair, liver, and even bone, etc. Because of this ability, they have enormous potential to treat degenerative conditions in instances where our bodies can’t regrow those cells fast enough to keep up with the degenerative effects of aging or injury.
In the past stem cell therapy was negatively associated with the destruction of embryos or even abortion. But these days, stem cells can be harvested from the perinatal tissue that would normally be discarded from healthy births. In this process, the mother is rigorously screened for disease and lifestyle history, and once collected, the tissue is also screened for disease. All donations are completely consensual, and neither the mother nor baby are harmed during the collection of this rich source of regenerative tissue.
Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Current Treatments
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it affects the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones. Over time, this wears down, causing the bones to grind together. This condition can be painful, cause swelling, and limit mobility.
Until now, there have been ways to mitigate the symptoms of arthritis, but no way to reverse the damage. Physical therapy can provide relief to a point, and some may elect to receive cortisone or lubrication injections to ease the pain. The last option for many people with advanced osteoarthritis is a joint replacement surgery.
How Stem Cells Can Help
With stem cell therapy, we may be able to reverse osteoarthritis and help avoid joint replacements. Because stem cells have the ability to become many types of tissue, they can develop into cartilage cells. This can help provide relief from pain and inflammation and reverse the damage from osteoarthritis.
According to one study, patients who received stem cell treatments for arthritis in their knees reported they were still in better shape five years after the study than before their treatments. For a degenerative disease that has previously had no cure, this is an enormous step.
What to Expect During Treatment
One great benefit of stem cell injections for osteoarthritis is the treatments are noninvasive. Most can be managed with a simple injection into the affected joint. In some cases they may also be administered through an IV.
After a preliminary examination, the doctor may use ultrasound to evaluate the joint and after sterilizing the area may use the ultrasound to guide the needle into the correct location. Treatments are usually peformed in less than an hour and sometimes can be performed in as little as fifteen minutes.
Stem cell therapy, while promising, is not cheap. Because it falls outside the traditional “prescription to surgery” model of treatment, many insurance companies do not cover it yet. But as the effectiveness of stem cell therapy gains more attention, that will change, so it may be worth checking with your insurance company just in case.
Stem cell therapy treatments for knee arthritis can run between $3,000 and $8,000 per knee. This may depend on where you live. It may be more expensive in some areas of the country, so talk to your doctor about how much you can expect to pay for this treatment.
Because stem cell therapy is so noninvasive, the side effects are limited. The most common complaint after a stem cell therapy injection is pain at the injection site. You may also experience a little swelling or some stiffness in the joint for a day or two after.
Because perinatal stem cells are immune privileged, they can be given to anyone without risk of rejection. If the pain and swelling persists, you may need to consult your provider. With any injection, there is a small risk of infection at the injection site.
If you’re receiving stem cell therapy, be sure you’re working through a clinic or medical provider who has experience in these therapies. Medical providers who have experience in orthopedics or intra-articular injections may be most qualified to peform your treatments.
Learn More About Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis
While it may not be for everyone, stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis is one of the most promising treatment options available today. Stem cells can help regrow lost cartilage and reverse the damage and pain associated with arthritis.
If you’d like to learn more about stem cell therapy for arthritis, or find out if you might be a good candidate for this type of therapy, come see us at the Stem Cell Institute of Hawaii. We address joint pain, osteoarthritis, and injuries with cutting-edge, regenerative treatments. Book an appointment today and get your questions about stem cell therapy treatment answered.