According to Bharat Bhise, stem cell therapy has gained a lot of traction in recent years. They have been hailed as a miracle cure for everything from wrinkles to spinal injuries and even heart disease. Let’s check out if stem cell therapy can repair damaged knees.
1. Stem cell therapy – Human body creates new cells in the bone marrow and depending on the signals of your body, stem cells are redirected to where they are required. It’s a basic and immature cell that has not developed into anything and can become whatever is necessary, from nerve cells to skin cells. In stem cell treatments, damaged tissues in your body are triggered to influence the stem cells to grow into those tissues.
However, research into knee treatment with stem cells is very limited. For now, the ACR/AF (American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation) doesn’t recommend stem cell treatment for Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. There is not enough evidence to prove its efficacy and safety and no standard procedure for preparing the injection.
2. Stem cell injection for knees – On your knees, the cartilage covers the bone ends for smooth gliding with minimal friction. However, OA damages the cartilage and increases friction. This results in inflammation, pain, and loss of mobility, and compromises the functioning of your knees. Theoretically, stem cell therapy should be able to slow down cartilage damage and repair it.
This should also result in reduced pain and inflammation and should delay or eliminate the need for knee replacement surgery. The treatment involves taking a small amount of the patient’s blood, concentrating the stem cells, and injecting them back into the knee to trigger the natural regenerative property of human bodies.
3. Efficacy and cost – Several studies have been conducted on this treatment method and the overall results are quite promising. However, it’s still at the experimental stage and more research needs to be done to figure out the correct dosage, working mechanism, the longevity of the results, and frequency of the treatment. More research is also needed to bring down the cost of the treatment. Despite conflicting evidence on stem cell injections, a lot of clinics offer this treatment for arthritic knee pain.
Unfortunately, the FDA considers the treatment for arthritic knee pain as ‘investigational’. That’s why the treatment isn’t standardized, and clinics can charge whatever they want. Most insurance companies won’t cover this treatment and it may cost you several thousands of dollars. Moreover, since it’s in its experimental stage, you may not get satisfactory results or even face severe issues. Instead, to reduce the pain, you may consider losing weight, exercising more, or even getting steroid injections to the joint.
Bharat Bhise suggests that you do your own research before you participate in experimental stem cell therapy, whether it’s for your knees or any other part of your body. Research into stem cell therapy for knee pain and damaged knees is still ongoing and may become an accepted treatment in the future.