Stem cells are the body's raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells.
These daughter cells become either new stem cells or specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
Generate healthy cells to replace cells affected by disease (regenerative medicine). Stem cells can be guided into becoming specific cells that can be used in people to regenerate and repair tissues that have been damaged or affected by disease.
Stem Cell injections for Knees
The cartilage covering the ends of the bones enables the bones to glide smoothly against one another with only slight friction. Osteoarthritis causes damage to the cartilage and leads to increased friction — resulting in pain, inflammation, and ultimately, a loss of mobility and function. Stem cell therapy for knees aims to: slow and repair damaged cartilage, decrease inflammation and reduce pain. Stem cells may possibly delay or prevent the need for knee replacement surgery. Knee pain affects over 25% of adults in the US and can affect anyone of any age. While physical therapy and prescription medications can be used to effectively treat mild pain, those with more severe pain may require surgery. Several studies have concluded that stem cell therapy improves arthritis symptoms of the knee.
What is stem cell treatment?
Stem cell therapy, also called orthobiologic treatment when talking about treating orthopedic conditions, is a special kind of medical treatment that uses stem cells and growth factors to reduce pain. BMAC (Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentration) is a procedure that takes the patient’s own bone marrow and concentrates the stem cells before injection.
We do know that patients suffering from knee pain may find relief with treatment.
Your doctor will always discuss the source of your stem cells with you before starting treatment and will not inject you with any substance you do not consent to.
Many patients do find relief from pain and stiffness caused by knee injuries or osteoarthritis with orthobiologic treatment. It may also be a good alternative to knee replacement surgery in some patients. There has been some evidence that orthobiologic injections reduce knee pain in patients by as much as 75%, which was supported by a follow-up study. Scientists believe this may be because injected stem cells can help reduce inflammation.
What are the potential benefits and drawbacks?
Stem cell therapy and orthobiologic treatment are evolving medical fields. There’s a lot we’re still learning about their uses, benefits, and drawbacks. We don’t know for certain if it works for things like cartilage regeneration or healing spinal cord injuries.
Despite this, Dr. Murphy reports that many patients do find orthobiologic treatment to be helpful for their knee pain—even if it doesn’t reverse bone or cartilage loss. Some of the benefits may include:
- Less pain from osteoarthritis or past injuries
- Reduced joint stiffness
- Reduced dependency on pain medications
- Improved mobility
Most patients who receive stem cell treatment for knee pain experience quick recovery times and little to no adverse side effects. It is important to know the potential complications such as:
- Risk of bacterial infection
- Redness, pain, and/or swelling at the injection site
- May be ineffective for some patients
Dr. Philippe Henigou from Paris, France has lectured in Austin and reported a 20-year follow-up study on the efficacy of stem cells in the knee. Bone Marrow aspirate Concentration is a procedure that takes your own bone marrow and concentrates stem cells for injection into the patient.