Orthopedic indications are one of the most common reasons that people may seek or be directed to stem cell therapy. These include joint stiffness, instability, and pain associated with athletic injuries, repetitive use injuries, and osteoarthritis-related dysfunction.
Do stem cells work on knees?
The answer to this question is uncertain. Some patients treated with stem cell containing preparations report significant improvements in their joints, with improved mobility and reduced pain. However, there are few reported data on how many patients have an improved, neutral, or adverse outcome. Some stem cell clinics are beginning to organize databases to track outcomes for specific treatments. This is a very good development for formulating better questions. Few medical treatments work the same in different patients or in all patients all the time. So, the better question is, “What are the observed treatment outcomes for knee stem cell therapies?”
Can knee cartilage heal on its own?
All tissues in the body have some capacity for repair, depending on the extent of injury of disease. With increasing age, the repair capacity of most tissues progressively decreases. Among human tissues, cartilage has one of the lowest repair capacities even in young people.
What is stem cell therapy for knees?
It is the injection into the knee of stem cell-containing tissue cell preparations from the patient’s own body or a donor’s body. Depending on the nature of the disease or injury the injection may be in the knee joint space or in or near particular knee cartilage or tendons. Different types of tissue cell preparations may be used as a source of stem cells, including fat, bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord, amniotic membrane, and amniotic fluid.
Is stem cell therapy an alternative to knee replacement?
Knee replacement surgery can be an effective therapy to restore mobility, strength, and reduced pain to an injured or arthritic knee. However, it also has significant surgical treatment risks that increase with older age. For younger patients, knee replacement may require second replacements in later years of life. Currently, stem cell therapy is not an approved alternative. For patients who do receive benefit from stem cell therapy, presently it is not known how long this treatment will be effective nor what impact it may have on the effectiveness of later knee replacement surgeries.
Can stem cells regenerate knee cartilage?
Candidates for adult cartilage stem cells were only recently identified. Once cartilage attains its mature thickness, cell renewal in the tissue is limited to the expansion required to accommodate bone and joint maturation. To date, regeneration of cartilage by either cartilage stem cells or transplanted stem cell treatments has not been established.
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