Overcome that Knee Injury with the latest advances in stem cell and PRP treatment
Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States
Arthritis affects a whopping 47.5 million adults in the country! The most common joint affected by osteoarthritis is the knee; adults have a 46% risk of developing knee arthritis at some point in their lifetime. Perhaps one of the most surprising statistics is that one out of every ten adults, with osteoarthritis, cannot walk from the parking lot to the back of a department store.
Unfortunately conservative treatment options for osteoarthritis are inadequate and do not slow progression of the disease. Currently, non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment options are extremely limited and do not convincingly help people avoid increasing knee pain or worsening functional disability. The surgical treatments for osteoarthritis are limited in efficacy, and the current failure rate is approximately 20% to 24%.
Knee injuries account for 15% of sports injuries; moreover, 50% of joint injuries are related to the knee
Approximately 75% of surgeries done on professional football players involve ligament tears [ligaments are structures which join two bones], including tears of the ACL [the anterior cruciate ligament runs diagonally in the middle of the knee], and meniscal injuries [the meniscus serves as a shock absorber and a cushion between the two bones of the knee joint].
The knee joint is a hinge joint consisting of two large bones and is held together with ligaments. It is also dependent on the bony structure, cartilage, and tendons that provide stability. Knee joint injuries are most commonly related to ligament tears or worn down cartilage. The end result is pain due to instability or due to friction between the surfaces of the two large bones. Diagnosis of knees injuries are initially offered by physical examination, imaging studies such as an MRI, and/or looking inside the joint via an arthroscopy. Knee pain is usually treated with conservative treatments such as rest, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and bracing. Unfortunately, a small subset of patients experience pain that does not resolve, and their injuries do not heal spontaneously. At this point, there are very limited options, and the usual result is the patient experiencing chronic pain.
New Advances for Knee Injuries
With limited options for treatment of knee injuries, stem cells have emerged as a potential treatment for mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. The phrase “stem cell treatment” usually evokes an ethical debate in our society. However, the stem cells used in this treatment are not controversial and do not pose an ethical dilemma. Why? Because the stem cells used in treatment for knee pain and osteoarthritis are adult mesenchymal stem cells and are derived from the patient’s own tissue. They are NOT embryonic stem cells. Instead, these stem cells are removed from the patient’s own tissue and then concentrated. The adult mesenchymal stem cells are then placed into the area of osteoarthritis with minimal pain and difficulty. Since the stem cells are obtained from our own body, there is no risk of rejection.
The area of injury or arthritis is treated with both platelet rich plasma (PRP) as well as concentrated adult stem cells that are derived from your bone marrow. PRP is a combination of platelets and growth factors that are naturally found in your blood. The PRP is used to provide nourishment and support to the stem cells to differentiate into the type of cell that is needed to heal the damaged area. If you consider stem cells as seeds, PRP is the water and fertilizer that helps the seeds sprout. PRP not only provides nourishment to the injected stem cells, but they can attract other stem cells and guide them to the damaged area.
Get back in the game with Stem Cells and PRP
Consider the case of an athlete that injured his or her ACL, meniscus, or even developed osteoarthritis. Recovery with conservative treatment measures may take a prolonged period of time to return the athlete back to the playing field and may potentially result in chronic pain. An athlete may miss out on entire athletic season or pre-season training due to an injury. However, with the use of adult stem cells and PRP, the athlete can drastically decrease the time needed to return to the playing field and potentially return pain-free.
There is minimal recovery from stem cell procedures, and most patients are back to work by the next day. The patient is asked to use the joint normally. There have been no reports of serious adverse effects in scientific literature when adult mesenchymal stem cells are used in these procedures.
Stem cell treatment is still experimental and in the infant stages; however, in the understanding of cell biology and new technology, it holds a great deal of promise. As this procedure is refined and advances, there will be a considerable decrease in the cost of managing knee pain. Many people can benefit from this minimally invasive treatment for their knee pain and, most importantly, avoid a lifetime of chronic knee pain.
If you are interested in exploring the latest minimally invasive treatment option for your knee injury,