Stem cell injections to relieve arthritis pain

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A new cutting edge stem cell treatment for Osteoarthritis (OA) is now being offered at a small number of clinics in the US, reports the Emory Orthopedics and Spine Center.

This new procedure begins with the collecting of stem cell blood from the bone marrow of a patient’s hip, taking out the plasma, spinning down the remaining fluid in a centrifuge to concentrate it, and then injecting the concentrate directly into the diseased joint. There is little risk of rejection by the body since the material is a patient’s own. This new procedure shows promise in treating the pain associated with OA and could one day replace conventional treatments like occupational therapy, cortical steroids and hyaluronic acid.

“There are only so many non-surgical options that are available,” stated Kenneth Mautner, MD, an expert in physical and rehabilitative medicine. “In the past we’ve done cortical steroid injections, which can give short-term relief for pain, but oftentimes the pain comes back, and it actually can worsen the problem over time.” Additionally, he mentioned that treatment with hyaluronic acid can somewhat help lubricate the joint and relieve some pain, but that this and other treatments do nothing to restore lost tissue in the joint. With stem cells and their ability to mature into a variety of different kinds of other cells, such as cartilage, the belief is that placing an abundance of them directly in a deficient area can lead to the growth of healthy new cells of the type that are needed.

Osteoarthritis, one of the most common forms of arthritis, is characterized by a wearing down of the protective cartilage in joints. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones begin to rub against each another causing stiffness, loss of mobility and pain. Often the first joints to feel the consequences of this disease are the knees and hips.

Early results show that some patients do better than others with stem cell treatments and that any side effects have been temporary and localized. While some patients report minor pain from the injection, it only lasts a few days. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities within a short time.

For those who are confronting possible joint-replacement surgery, having a stem cell treatment is a small gamble that may delay or even avoid a surgery. Currently, that gamble is only available via self-pay since this stem cell treatment is only experimental and not currently covered by most medical insurance. For more information on current stem cell treatments, see The Stem Cell Transplant Institute Website.

Staff @ MexicaliMedicalGuide
April 5, 2013
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