Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery: Stem Cell Treatments
Knee Replacement is common in the United States. Knee and hip replacement surgeries approach one million surgeries a year. Regenerative Medicine strategies such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Stem Cell Therapy may have a role in modifying the rate of arthritis progression.
Prescription anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s), cortisone injections, joint lubricant injections, and arthroscopic knee surgery do not alter the progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Trauma and surgery have been shown to accelerate the rate of arthritis progression.
Regenerative Medicine treatments including Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) may utilize growth factors to exert a healing response. Stem cell treatments exert more complicated patterns of healing. Stem cells may work in a variety of ways to initiate a healing or reparative effect.
This may occur by directly influencing inflammatory responses, and also by creating new cells. Stem cells may work by regeneration, if the stem cell forms a new cartilage cell (chondrocyte). This can be coupled with the formation of new matrix (cartilage support network).
The ability of stem cells to promote a reparative rather than a degenerative cascade, is a cornerstone of Regenerative Medicine.
Stem Cells as an Alternative to Knee Replacement
Stem cell treatments may be considered an alternative strategy to knee joint replacement surgery. Some patients may regenerate cartilage. Others may slow the rate of progression of arthritis. There are many scenarios to arthritis progression. Stem cell treatment for knee osteoarthritis, may be one aspect of the complete picture. There is no simplistic plan that every patient should get the same treatment. Each patient should be individually assessed for their own particular needs and goals.