The knee consists of many components, making it highly susceptible to injury. Seeking professional treatment can greatly reduce pain and other symptoms while improving mobility, strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Common knee injuries include sprains, ligament tears, fractures, and dislocations. However, knee pain can arise from various health conditions and injuries, simple overuse, or…
Does Stem Cell Therapy Work for Knee Issues?
In the United States, stem cell therapy is currently regarded as a phenomenal solution for many conditions. Although only a small percentage of these usages have a scientific basis, the use of stem cell therapy for knees has shown noteworthy potential in many studies. Arthritis is caused by the deterioration of joint cartilages, resulting in discomfort and dysfunctional movement. Osteoarthritis and other arthritic conditions are among the leading causes of disability in the United States, according to the CDC.
According to Healthline, an estimated 600,000 Americans receive knee replacement yearly, and the number is expected to increase to 3 million by 2030. Previously, the available methods of treatments were either surgical or short term. With the discovery of stem cell therapy, doctors can now reduce discomfort and repair cartilage, which is a tremendous benefit. In 2016, The Sun newspaper reported that Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Real Madrid forward, received stem cell therapy for his injured knee. He is one of many pro athletes that have tried the procedure.
Why stem cell therapy?
Mature stem cells repair and sustain tissues by replacing damaged or dead cells. In parts of the body where blood supply is not abundant, stem cells cannot perform their duties effectively. The alternative is to inject them into that area, which will consequently begin the self-healing process.
The joint cartilage helps to ensure that joint surfaces move smoothly and to shield the bones from friction. This helps with shock absorption, which is necessary for physical movement, particularly in athletics. Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative condition that usually affects the knee, leading to the degeneration of the cartilage around the joint. It can result from injuries such as fractures, tendon damage, or ligament tears.
When damage occurs, the joint loses stability and stresses the articular cartilage. This damages the bones and potentially, the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and synovial joint lining. Stem cell therapy is less invasive and can reduce inflammation, reverse or stall damages caused by arthritis, and possibly prevent the need for knee replacement surgery.
How does stem cell therapy work?
Stem cell treatment is a reasonably simple and non-invasive technique. Physicians can now obtain adult stem cells from various sources, including the patient's own body.
Doctors often use mesenchymal stem cells when treating knee issues. These cells are typically present in the bone marrow and fat and muscle tissues. A local anesthetic may be used to alleviate pain during the procedure, enabling physicians to extract a sample of tissue from a specific area of the body. Patients should typically not feel any discomfort, even after the surgery. In some cases, the doctor may opt to place the patient under light anesthesia.
Next, the doctor will separate the mesenchymal stem cells. These are used to create the stem cell injections. Finally, the doctor will inject the stem cells into knee tissue using a syringe. After the procedure, the cells will begin the process of repairing the tissue there. Mesenchymal stem cells have therapeutic effects on the local tissue environment, though the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood.
Mesenchymal stem cells seem to reduce inflammation, reduce scarring (fibrosis), and have a favorable effect on the immune system. However, this is not enough to guarantee a successful treatment. The provider may also introduce growth factors (platelet-rich plasma) to the region. These hormones instruct the body to send more blood and other nutrients to the location to aid the stem cells and the body's repair process. Studies have shown that stem cell therapy works on the knee by:
- Preventing inflammation
- Transforming into necessary cartilage cells
- Discharging proteins called cytokines that halt the deterioration of joint cartilage
Studies are ongoing to learn more about stem cell treatment methods, dosages, and cell choices that provide the most consistent outcomes.
Side effects of stem cell therapy
The procedure is noninvasive, safe, and painless. There have been few reports of side effects following stem cell treatment. Common occurrences include mild swelling or pain at the injection point and joint rigidity. Possible complications may happen if the stem cell is adulterated or mixed with other solutions or if the stem cells are not used immediately.
Doctors extract mature stem cells from the bone marrow or fat, concentrate them, and reinject them into the knee. Stem cell therapy is still being investigated and requires further research, but so far, the results have been favorable. With time, methods of stem cell preparation will improve, and the results will get better.
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