By Dr. Matthew McAuliffe
A healthy joint functions as a cushion for weight bearing. In addition, it lubricates itself during motion allowing for more effortless movement. Eventually, as a result of wear and tear, overuse, and accumulative injuries --- osteoarthritis develops.
Osteoarthritis is responsible for 250,000 hip and 475,000 knee replacements annually in the United States.1 This is not to mention the millions more americans living with joint pain as a result of arthritis who prefer to avoid surgery.
The surgical approach has traditionally been to amputate what’s left of an injured damaged joint, and insert metal as an artificial joint. This does not come without risk. There is still about a 30% chance of continued ongoing pain after a knee or hip replacement. There is an increase risk of developing a blood clot after a major procedure that could cause a life-threatening event such as a heart attack or stroke. This is not to mention that an artificial joint will never perform like a biologic joint – in that it is generally discouraged to run or jump or perform any high-impact activities on a artificial joint as this will cause it to wear out quicker.
Stem cell therapy, cells harvested from the bone marrow provide a treatment alternative. These cells have the ability to alter the environment in a joint from a pro-inflammatory painful environment, into an like a maestro in a symphony, where they release hundreds of cell-signaling proteins to turn off the inflammation, prevent cellular destruction, and stimulate cells to regenerate again into healthy joint tissue.
Additionally, using very precise image guidance with ultra-minimally invasive techniques, we can very precisely place these stem cells into areas with the most damage – to have the best outcomes. The overall goal is to treat these areas to generate a more stable and better functioning joint without the risk of a major surgery.
But does it work? There are now several studies suggesting it does.2-5
Have any more questions, please schedule an appointment to discuss this new leading-edge treatment option with Spine Nevada's Dr. Matthew McAuliffe.
1 - Kremers et al. Prevalence of Total Hip and Knee Replacement in the United States. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2015 Sep
2 - Vangsness et al. Adult human mesenchymal stem cells delivered via intra-articular injection to the knee following partial medial meniscectomy: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2014 Jan
3 - C.H. Jo, Y.G. Lee, W.H. Shin, H. Kim, J.W. Chai, E.C. Jeong, et al. Intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a proof-of-concept clinical trial Stem Cells, 325 (2014), pp. 1254-1266
4 - Orozco et al. Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with autologous mesenchymal stem cells: a pilot study. Transplantation. 2013 Jun
5 – Jo et al. Intraarticular injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Am J Sports Med. 2017 Oct;45(12):2774-2783.
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