Osteoarthritis (OA) is commonly just referred to as arthritis. Stem Cell Therapy for arthritis has increased as our scientific understanding of osteoarthritis and stem cell functioning has improved.
OA is the most common degenerative and disabling condition in the United States, afflicting over 50 million adults. OA as compared to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is the result of many factors.
Prior joint surgery
Local inflammatory (cytokine) effects
Osteoarthritis tends to be a progressive disorder. Knee arthritis is the most common joint affected. Women have a higher incidence than men. Women also have a smaller knee joint surface area which amplifies the forces of degeneration and higher body weight. The effect of a 10 lb. weight gain is translated to an increase knee force of 30-50 extra pounds.
Stem cells may exert their reparative effects on arthritis via many mechanisms.
The anti-inflammatory effect of stem cells is complex and dynamic. Stem cells affect inflammatory cytokines at the initiating pathways, unlike prescription anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s), which block the end products of the inflammatory cascade.
NSAID’s have not been shown to alter the progression of osteoarthritis.
Stem cells also may facilitate a regenerative effect, as some stem cells are able to differentiate into new cartilage cells. Stem cells may also influence other local cells that are also capable of forming new cartilage cells (progenitor cells) into differentiation.
The ability to modify, halt or regress arthritis is unique to Regenerative Medicine, as no medications, supplements or surgery has been shown to alter the progression of arthritis development.
The ability to potentially alter the course of degenerative arthritis is a much sought after goal, and could have future impact on preventative medicine, as well as be an alternative to joint replacement surgery.