The prevalence of arthritis in the United States is bad and getting worse, thanks to an aging population that’s living longer. According to estimates from the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects more than 92 million people in the U.S.
And it’s not just the elderly who are affected. About one in three people between the ages of 18 and 64 report arthritis, and these numbers rise exponentially for age groups 65 and older — affecting half of men and two-thirds of women.
In response to this growing problem, the medical community is increasingly turning to regenerative medicine as an effective and sustainable solution. Recognizing the potential of this approach to arthritis, the team at No Mercy Sports Medicine, under the direction of Dr. Moisés Irizarry-Román, counts itself among those at the forefront of this new science.
To help you understand the role that regenerative medicine practices — such as with the use of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections — can play in relieving arthritis, we’ve pulled together the following information.
Going back to the source with stem cells
The human body is made up of trillions of cells, all of which come from stem cells. Stem cells are called undifferentiated cells because of their ability to transform into specialized cells and then multiply as that particular cell.
Stem cells are most powerful during embryonic development as they provide the building blocks upon which a human body is formed. As an adult, you still carry stem cells in your body, mostly in your bone marrow and adipose tissue.
When we use stem cells in our treatments, we aspirate the stem cells from your bone marrow, usually around your hip. We then inject this concentrate into your arthritic joints.
By introducing stem cells into your damaged tissues, we’re providing the resources your body needs to repair the worn-down and damaged tissues in your joint, essentially helping them to rebuild with healthier cells.
The many roles of platelets
Another regenerative approach to arthritis is our PRP therapy. Your blood contains platelets, which are charged with clotting when there's damage to one of your blood vessels. Once your platelets have controlled the bleeding, they release growth factors that aid in the healing and repair of the injured tissues.
With our PRP therapy, we harness your platelets and redirect them into your joints, where they create an environment that supports healing. This is especially useful for osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage in your joints breaks down.
Because your cartilage doesn’t contain a good network of blood vessels, this tissue isn’t able to readily repair itself. By delivering platelets directly into your joints, we can supply the resources your tissues need to repair and rebuild themselves.
Regenerative medicine and arthritis
The overriding goal of regenerative medicine is to restore function by rebuilding tissues and organs on a cellular level.
When it comes to arthritis, platelets and stem cells go a few steps further by helping to reduce inflammation and increase lubrication within your joints. Both therapies also serve an analgesic function that reduces your discomfort.
If your life is limited by arthritis, contact our office in Miami, Florida, to explore how regenerative medicine can help restore pain-free movement.