Arthritis affects almost 25% of adults in the U.S. While the chronic condition comes in several forms, including osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, all arthritis leads to pain, aching, swelling, and stiffness in and around the joints. Both rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can cause widespread symptoms and affect multiple organs.
Unfortunately, there is no current cure for arthritis. However, treatments like physical therapy, medication, and surgery can reduce symptoms and allow patients to continue enjoying the activities they love.
Although these treatments can mask the symptoms of arthritis, they can’t address the underlying condition, so arthritis continues to worsen.
New advancements in regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, may provide the key to stopping the progression of arthritis without surgery.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
When typical cells divide, they create two daughter cells identical to their cell of origin. When stem cells divide, they can generate daughter cells or differentiate into specialized cells, such as cartilage cells or brain cells. Those cells can repair or replace damaged cells.
In stem cell therapy, a physician extracts stem cells from the patient, typically removing them from bone marrow or fat tissue. The stem cells are then administered into a treatment area, where they differentiate into the kinds of cells surrounding them.
For example, stem cells extracted from the bone marrow may be injected into an elbow with osteoarthritis. The newly introduced stem cells recognize the damaged cartilage cells, so they differentiate into cartilage cells to repair the cartilage and restore its function in the joint.
How Do Stem Cells Treat Arthritis?
An increasing number of studies examining stem cells’ effectiveness in treating arthritis in the knee have yielded promising results. Stem cell injections have been shown to repair articular cartilage and regenerate new cartilage.
In addition, stem cells offer anti-inflammatory and self-renewing capabilities that can reduce pain and improve function and overall quality of life for arthritis patients.
When to Choose Stem Cells for Arthritis
Since the capabilities of stem cells are still being discovered, treatments are not yet widely available. As a result, patients often choose stem cell therapy when their non-surgical options are exhausted.
A systematic review of over 60 studies using stem cells found that the treatment may be most beneficial for younger patients with milder arthritis damage rather than patients at the end of their treatment options.
In addition, the review also determined that stem cell treatments have proven to be a safe option, even though their use is still new. Their success is measurable in patient-reported improvements regarding pain relief and increased function and validated through MRI and macroscopic findings.
In summary, patients with arthritis seeking a more therapeutic treatment option may have promising opportunity by exploring this new alternative therapy option to help improve their daily activities.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for back pain, also known as stem cell therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.