Stem Cell Therapy for Joints: Knee, Hip, and Shoulder
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects multiple joints, such as the knees, shoulders, and hips. This degenerative disease of the articular cartilage, bone, and connective tissues can affect people of all ages, but it is more common among older individuals. Because the population is aging, doctors have found that stem cell therapy works well for treating conditions that affect the joints, such as osteoarthritis.
How common is joint pain?
In the United States, around 23% of adults have been told by a doctor they have some type of arthritis or joint disease. Joint pain from arthritis is going to affect 78 million people by the year 2040, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
What causes joint pain?
The most common cause of joint pain is OA. Over time, and with injuries and trauma, the cartilage substance between bone surfaces decrease. Symptoms that accommodate OA include joint pain, stiffness, and loss of joint function.
How do stem cells treat joint problems?
The cartilage of the joints will wear over time, which causes pain when bones rub against one another. Self-regeneration of cartilage is slow, and it involves elastin fibers, chondrocytes, and matrix. The joint fluid contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can turn into chondrocytes and build new cartilage. When stem cells are injected into the joint, the regeneration process speeds up.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
The doctor will first meet with you for a consultation. After determining the stem cell joint injection is right for you, the Maryland stem cell doctor takes a medical history and conducts a physical examination. Because blood thinners can cause bleeding, these drugs are held for several days before the procedure. Be sure to arrange to have someone drive you home from the medical facility, and wear loose fitting clothing to the appointment.
What can I expect during the procedure?
When you arrive at the medical facility, a nurse will go over the procedure risks and benefits and have you sign a consent form. The stem cells will be obtained from the hip bone (iliac crest) marrow, or from adipose (fat) tissue via liposuction. After changing into a gown, the nurse will place an IV catheter in your arm. A sedative is administered after you are positioned on the procedure table.
The hip region is cleaned using an antiseptic solution, and a needle is inserted using x-ray guidance. The bone marrow is removed gently, and then sent to the laboratory for processing. After the stem cells are purified and processed, the joint is injected. A small bandage will be on the hip region and the joint.
Another option is to receive amniotic stem cell therapy, which requires no harvesting from the patient. With that technique, no sedation is typically required unless it’s in the spine.
What will happen after the stem cell joint injection?
Immediately after the procedure, the hip region and injected joint will both feel sore and tender. This will last for 2-3 days. When you awake from sedation, a nurse will go over discharge instructions. Plan to rest for a few days before gradually returning to usual activities. You will notice improvement within 1-3 months. The doctor may schedule you for a series of stem cell joint injections. This depends on the severity of your joint condition.
Does stem cell therapy work?
MSC injection therapy has been evaluated in recent years by several clinical studies and protocols. Overall, stem cell therapy has shown to have a significant advantage over conventional treatment approaches. The stem cells can be harvested from the patient, so rejection and reaction rarely occurs. Amniotic stem cell therapy is actually immunoprivileged and causes no rejection. In addition, stem cells offer a quick recovery with little down time.