Arthritis can be debilitating since it can cause wear and tear in your joints, reduced range of motion, and pain. Thankfully, there are many options to treat this condition, such as physical therapy, massage, hydrotherapy, medications, etc. If more conservative treatments aren't working, you may be considering surgery. One treatment you may not have heard about for arthritis, however, is stem cell therapy. Read on to learn more about what this therapy is and how it can help arthritis.
What are stem cells, and how do they help arthritis?
Stem cells are located all over the body, and what makes them so valuable is that they can change into different types of cells when they duplicate. So when a stem cell is placed in a certain environment, it can change into a needed cell to accommodate a certain need by a patient. For instance, if arthritis patients have damaged cartilage, then stem cells can be used to replace damaged cartilage cells.
Because stem cell therapy is a fairly new treatment, more studies need to be conducted regarding its efficacy. The good news is that studies so far have shown promising results. For instance, one study showed that after a 12-month period, patients with osteoarthritis had a better quality of life and there was an anti-inflammatory response from stem cell therapy.
What about the controversy of stem cells?
There is some ethical debate regarding embryonic stem cells, but these types of cells aren't used for arthritis treatments. The type of stem cells that are used for arthritis are called mesenchymal cells. Mesenchymal cells are mainly found in bone marrow, and these are extracted from a patient's own tissue. These types of stem cells can also be extracted from a patient's blood or from fat tissue.
How does stem cell therapy work?
Stem cell therapy can work in conjunction with major surgery or as a conservative treatment on its own. Your doctor will first collect stem cells (known as harvesting) by either taking a blood sample, fat tissue through liposuction, or bone marrow through marrow aspiration. During bone marrow aspiration, your doctor would give you a local anesthetic and then use a needle with a syringe to pull marrow from your pelvic bone.
Once the necessary stem cells are collected, your doctor will inject the stem cells into the site of damage, such as in a knee or elbow joint. During the injection, your doctor may use an ultrasound or other imaging device to more precisely place the stem cells into areas that need repair.
Reach out to a stem cell therapy clinic in your area today to learn more.