One in five adults in the United States is diagnosed with arthritis, leading to a lesser quality of life with limitations on everyday actions. Every year, on average, there are 500,000 knee replacement surgeries, with the primary cause being arthritis. Over $50 billion dollars is spent annually on arthritis in the US in order to pay for medications, physical therapy, doctors’ visits, etc. With over 100 types of joint disorders, arthritis takes many forms and affects the average person by causing stiffness, swelling, joint pain, inflammation and limited mobility (just to name a few). If you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatment, the field of regenerative medicine and the use of stem cell technology might be the most beneficial investment.
Stem Cell Therapy has made a recent emergence in the field of medicine, as researchers are developing new ways to replace and regenerate damages joints, tissues, and organs. As an approximated 350 million people worldwide are affected by arthritis, an effective, versatile treatment is more than necessary.
In Stem Cell Therapy, a patient’s own fat, marrow and/or blood are extracted and placed in a centrifuge in order to differentiate the different components of blood; the stem cells are then taken out, infused with natural growth promoters found in platelets, and inserted into the injured region to repair damaged tissue and alleviate chronic joint pain. The introduction of a large quantity of stem cells to the arthritic areas in need of repair promotes healing. An extremely non-invasive procedure, Stem Cell Therapy offers an alternative to invasive, joint replacement surgeries such as hip and knee replacements.
A real life example is seen in Patricia Beals, a 72-year-old woman who was told she needed a double knee replacement because of her arthritis; if she did not go through with the surgery, she would most likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Instead of the extremely invasive procedure, Beals elected for Stem Cell Therapy. Results were seen immediately, as she was able to stop using her cane the day after the therapy. Now, she is biking and hiking virtually pain free.
To ease chronic arthritis pain, many professionals turn to invasive surgery, where infection and rejection are two huge risks faced by any patient contemplating a joint replacement surgery. An appealing alternative is available: the use of stem cells to grow living bone. The probability of infection is minimized because the need for a bone graft is no longer necessary and the chance of rejection is slim to none, because the bone is made from a patient’s own cells. It took researchers about one month to transform stem cells taken from fat tissue into fully formed bone. The bones can be made precisely and uniquely, as they are shaped outside the body. Gel-like scaffolds are created, stem cells obtained from fat tissue are cultured inside the mold by a bioreactor, and then the fully-grown bone is transplanted into the patient. This procedure has mainly been tested on animals, where bone was grown and implanted into a rat’s leg; it completely fused with the existing bone and retained all normal functioning. Human trials are also taking place around the globe.
Animals seem to be reaping the benefits of Stem Cell Therapy on arthritis, as an 11-year-old Golden Retriever has recently received the procedure for her aching, arthritic joints. Stem cells extracted from the dogs own fat or marrow were inserted into her problem areas to restore and repair damaged tissues. The use of stem cells in the veterinary field to treat joint disorders is becoming increasingly significant.
After seeing the benefits on the animal models scientists and physicians quickly worked to bring this technology into the medical field for humans. Incorporating biological medicine has allow the medical community a new modality to repair arthritically damaged areas of a patients body by using their own tissues. Bones, tendons, fat pads and other tissues affected by arthritis are quickly being reversed by the use of stem cell therapy.
If you are suffering from chronic joint paint due to arthritis, surgery is not always the only answer. Stem Cell Therapy can provide an amazing alternative, where your own cells are used to promote healing inside your body. Medicine has advanced significantly in the last 15 years and to use techniques that were pioneered over two decades ago is improper and newer and less invasive procedures are the future of medicine.
Copyright © 2012 Alex Martin MD & Francesca Coxe, Los Angeles. Edited by Devin Stone
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