Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, is the most common form of the disease and the source of pain for many people. As the cartilage breaks down in the joints, such as the knee, ankle, neck and shoulders, bone rubs against bone during movement and causes pain. Damage can also occur to the surrounding soft tissue. Unlike other pain clinics that limit their treatment options to medications or surgery, we believe that stem cell therapy is an excellent option that addresses the damage caused by the disease instead of just providing a quick fix.
Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 20 million people in this country alone. Although some will experience only minor discomfort, others find it to be debilitating, impacting their ability to perform even the simplest activities for themselves. Only in recent years has the use of stem cell therapy become an option at pain clinics. Stem cells are those cells that have not yet differentiated into a specific type of tissue. When they are injected into the damaged area, they help to regenerate new cartilage so that the joints are strengthened and the lost range of motion returns.
The cells of the body constantly copy themselves and then die. Those cells that are not functioning properly create new cells that do not function properly as well. Although the stem cells already have a specific function that they are destined to fulfill, they have the ability to take on the function of the cells surrounding them when placed in any area of the body. Since the cells are “blanks” which have not been programmed to operate as any specific type of cell, they have the ability to function as a cartilage cell in the damaged joint and create a new, healthier layer of cushioning. Stem cell therapy is the process by which doctors manipulate the cells so that they take on the function of cartilage cells and replace the missing tissue from the joint.
Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it occurs from repeated use of the joints as we age. Most of the types of therapy for this disease are used to control pain and have no way of replacing the cartilage that has worn away. The last resort for many people who suffer from this disease has been joint replacement surgery in which the entire affected joint is replaced with a mechanical device.
Stem cell therapy has given pain clinics a valuable tool that not only manages pain, but cures the cause of it. The results of the therapy have proven to be very effective, offering a treatment that is safer than less invasive than joint replacement surgery. Many people who have experienced a diminished quality of life due to the effects of osteoarthritis have gotten stem cell therapy and regained the movement and loss of pain that had limited their activities. It is one of the most valuable tools that pain clinics have received for treating patients who suffer from chronic pain.