Arthritis is a painful condition that affects your joints, and people of any age can develop it. It more commonly occurs in women and in older adults. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but they all involve a painful deterioration of the cartilage in your joints. People who suffer from arthritis may be able to alleviate their symptoms through the use of stem cell therapy as a treatment for arthritis. Here is how the therapy works, how it may help you and why it is a better option than surgery.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are types of undifferentiated cells that have the potential to turn into other types of tissue. The stem cells that are used to treat arthritis are found in your fat tissue or bone marrow. These cells are called mesenchymal stem cells, and they can differentiate into cartilage, bone and fat. They cannot be used to form other types of tissues other than these three types. When mesenchymal stem cells are taken from your bone marrow or your fat tissue and injected into your arthritic joint, they can help new cartilage to form through a process that is called regeneration.
How stem cell therapy can help people suffering from arthritis
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative type of arthritis that worsens over time. As the cartilage in your joints deteriorates, the bones lose their cushioning, rubbing together. This can cause inflammation to develop, leading to pain and swelling. When stem cells are injected into the joints, they will slowly regenerate your cartilage. This can lead to a lessening of your symptoms over a period of a few weeks.
How is the stem cell therapy treatment for arthritis performed?
Your doctor will most likely choose to aspirate bone marrow from your hip. You will be asked to lie on your stomach, and the area will be numbed. Using a special needle, the doctor will then insert it into your hip bone into its marrow, aspirating a small portion of it. Then, the marrow will be placed into a centrifuge machine. It spins very quickly, allowing the mesenchymal stem cells to separate out from the unneeded material. The unwanted material will be discarded. The doctor will then inject the stem cell solution into your damaged joint. You should expect the whole process to take around 30 minutes, and it is conducted as an in-office visit.
What are the side effects?
Unlike the potential problems that are associated with surgery, there should be very few complications involved with stem cell therapy. Since the stem cells that will be used come from your own body, you will not need to worry about having an allergic reaction. Any complications you might experience would simply be those associated with injections such as minor bleeding or slight pain.
How many treatments are required?
A majority of patients notice improvements in their arthritis symptoms after receiving one or two stem cell injections. Your injections will be spaced out over time to allow the regenerative process to work. At the most, you might receive three treatments in a one-year period.
Stem cell therapy as an alternative method for treating arthritis is a type of regenerative medicine that has been shown to help. It may be a superior choice for relieving the pain and swelling associated with arthritis to surgery. With stem cell therapy, you may enjoy lasting results without the complications that may be associated with surgical interventions.