Stem Cell Therapy as an Alternative to Surgery

Knee Surgeon

Stem cell therapy is a state-of-the-art regenerative procedure. It can lead to pain reduction, improved mobility, and correction of physical limitation without the risks and lengthy recovery times associated with joint replacements and other types of invasive surgeries.

What is Regenerative Medicine?

The field of “regenerative medicine” is becoming more well-established and proven. As a knee surgeon from a practice like the Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania can explain, the term “regenerative medicine” refers to the use of stem cells, often in conjunction with other surgical procedures, to regenerate and repair damaged tissues.

Many orthopedic practices have begun to incorporate stem cell therapy into their standard treatment protocols routinely. Stem cell procedures provide a natural healing method that is a less invasive alternative to surgical treatment for many painful musculoskeletal conditions.

In the past decade or so, there has been a substantial amount of research into using adult stem cells to treat orthopedic conditions, either in conjunction with surgery, or as a stand alone procedure without surgery. In a stem cell therapy procedure, a patient’s own stem cells are injected into an area of the body that is injured or arthritis-damaged in order to regenerate the tissues. 

What are Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

Tissue regeneration comes from a type of stem cell called a mesenchymal stem cell. These stem cells are located in the bone marrow. They are primitive, non-specialized cells that can differentiate into a specific type of tissue cells, such as cartilage, tendon, and bone. Rather than repairing existing tissue damage, stem cell therapies work to regenerate the damaged or injured tissue. This regeneration can not only repair the damage but can also grow new, healthy tissue.

Stem cell therapy for orthopedic conditions employs a stem cell transplant from the patient’s own body. The necessary mesenchymal stem cells are harvested from a patient’s fatty tissue or bone marrow. Thus, there is little chance of tissue rejection that would be a concern if a donor (allogeneic transplant) tissue was used. The stem cells are extracted, processed, concentrated, and then reintroduced, by injection, into the injured tissue.

Which Orthopedic Conditions Can Respond to Stem Cell Therapy?

Numerous orthopedic conditions can benefit from the regenerative properties of stem cell therapy. These include: 

  • Damaged knee cartilage
  • Bone loss
  • Torn tendons and ligaments
  • Torn meniscus in the knee
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease in the spine

Can I Get Stem Cell Therapy?

Until very recently, orthopedic stem cell therapy was limited to elite athletes due to the prohibitive cost. However, favorable patient outcomes have demonstrated that this procedure is potentially successful for many patients who have not responded completely to conservative treatments, such as rest and physical therapy. This method may provide enough pain relief for these patients that surgery may be avoided or delayed.

Stem cell therapy is a promising approach to the treatment of painful and debilitating musculoskeletal conditions. However, not all patients are candidates for these procedures. If you have an orthopedic condition that is not responding to conventional treatment methods, contact a stem cell doctor in your local area, and schedule an appointment to discuss your options.

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