Osteoarthritis is perhaps the most common cause of joint deterioration, affecting over 10% of the American population aged 60 and older. This number is on the rise as baby boomers get older.
Largely a condition caused by wear-and-tear due to daily living and joint injuries, osteoarthritis can affect any joint by eroding the protective cartilage that covers the ends of bones. This leads to chronic pain symptoms and, ultimately, a complete loss of cartilage, allowing bone-on-bone contact.
Treatment traditionally focuses on pain management, using increasingly stronger drugs and dosages until joint replacement surgery is justified. There’s no cure for osteoarthritis and, until recently, the only way to slow the progression of the disease has been physical therapy, which isn’t always effective for all patients.
However, regenerative medicine is an exciting field of study that’s making great progress. This field uses techniques that augment the natural healing systems of your body to help them work more efficiently to slow, stop, or even reverse the progress of degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.
A regenerative medicine treatment called stem cell therapy proves helpful for many patients suffering from joint deterioration.
Stem cells and osteoarthritis
When your joints suffer the effects of osteoarthritis, your body isn’t standing idly on the sidelines. It’s attempting to repair the damage to your cartilage, but the availability of natural resources puts a cap on the speed of repairs. It’s thought that arthritic symptoms start when the pace of deterioration overtakes the rate of repair.
Many cells in your body are standing by as raw materials for repair. These cells have no function in their natural state other than to reproduce themselves or, under signals from your body, to convert into cell types needed for repair, like cartilage cells in the case of osteoarthritis.
Stem cell therapy
One of the theories behind stem cell therapy is that, by augmenting the number of stem cells available for repair, the speed of repair can increase. Contemporary stem cell therapy techniques attempt to do just that.
These serums are injected into an affected joint, sometimes with a series of treatments over time, providing your body with an excess of raw materials for repair. Stem cell therapy is easily tolerated by your body, is drug-free, and has few side effects or potential complications.
Complemented by platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is another regenerative treatment that concentrates elements of your own blood, which is then re-injected into your body, the same way stem cell therapy gets delivered. Platelets carry growth factors, thought to be your body’s communication link to activate stem cells.
While research is still ongoing, the combination of stem cell and PRP therapy seems to produce greater results. Again, with little downside and no drug side effects, these procedures have a high benefit-to-risk ratio.
Is stem cell therapy right for you? The best way to know is to contact Dr. Irizarry-Román at No Mercy Sports Medicine. He will examine your affected joints and review your health history to determine an effective treatment plan. Call either office or use the online booking tool to arrange your consultation. All you have to lose is your joint pain.