Osteoarthritis and Its Impact
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that results in damage to the cartilage in our joints and subsequent remodeling of bone (formation of bone spurs). Cartilage is the smooth white substance that covers the ends of our bones where they meet to form a joint. The purpose of the cartilage is to allow the joints to move smoothly through range of motion. Damage or loss of this cartilage results in pain, stiffness, crepitus (grinding, popping) and swelling of joints. This subsequently leads to functional decline.
Osteoarthritis is classified as primary or secondary. Primary OA is related to the aging process and has a strong genetic predilection (we inherit our parent’s joints). Secondary OA typically results from an injury. For example, a patient who suffered an ACL tear as a young person is more likely to develop OA in that knee.
OA affects 12% of the American population over 25 years of age. The knee is the most common joint involved in OA. It is estimated that over 130 million Americans will be affected by OA by 2050. Over 600,000 knee replacements and 300,000 hip replacements are performed each year in the US alone, and this number continues to rise, these numbers highlight the need to develop new treatments for this debilitating disease.
How can stem cell therapy help?
Joints that are involved in OA have a tremendous amount of inflammation. This inflammatory environment results in the release of enzymes and cytokines that break down cartilage. Cartilage breakdown leads to loose debris in the joint, that promotes further inflammation. So, this process continues in cyclical fashion.
Biologic treatments (which includes platelet rich plasma, bone marrow concentrate and umbilical products) have a very potent anti-inflammatory effect not only because of the stem cells present in some of these products, but because of the anti-inflammatory proteins and enzyme inhibitors. This effect can dramatically reduce the inflammation in the joint and subsequently slow down the process of cartilage destruction. Further, most physicians who are familiar with these treatments believe that the MSC’s (mesenchymal stem cells) recruit further anti-inflammatory proteins and the patient’s own stem cells into action.
While we believe that these treatments can dramatically reduce the symptoms of arthritis and slow the process down, there is no evidence that we are able to reverse the damage and return a joint to normal.
If you are curious if you are a candidate for treatment, please contact us at Sunstone Regenerative Medicine. We are fellowship trained Orthopaedic Surgeons with over 65 years of combined experience. We are also believers in non-operative options when patients are selected appropriately.