Stem Cell Therapy Offers Hope
Knee ligament injuries are common in all types of athletes. They are some of the most dreaded injuries in the sports world since they can abruptly end your athletic career. In addition to that, the injury can be debilitating and very painful. Since ligaments are poorly supplied with blood, healing is slow and the ligament may never heal completely. The existing medical practice has been ineffective in this respect despite important advances. But now, knee stem cell treatment is changing all these.
There are four major ligaments in the knee. These are:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
Any of these or a combination can get injured and depending on the degree of injury, lead to varying states of disability. So long as the ligament is not completely torn off, studies have shown promising results with the use of stem cells injections.
How knee ligament injuries are diagnosed
There is a history of intense activity like football, soccer, skiing or some other demanding sports or an accident. The patient may give a history of a snap or pop sound in the knee followed by intense pain. Other signs and symptoms include swelling, reduced joint mobility and sometimes hotness. Apart from the initial pain relief measures like cold compression’s and use of analgesics, many patients are advised to have surgery to correct the injury. But does such an operation always give the desired long-term benefits? Although some benefits may be realized, surgical complications are not uncommon. Consider a few of these:
- Bleeding and anesthetic complications are early problems that can occur.
- Infections of the surgical site.
- Transmission of diseases where graft material is sourced from other people (including cadavers)
- Nerve injuries.
- Joint fusion and stiffness
- Instability of the joint which can expose the patient to accidents and further injuries.
For candidates who are fit for knee stem cell injections, all these complications may be avoided. The sourcing of stem cell from adipose tissue or from the hip bone involves minimal invasion which does not expose the patient to any significant surgical risk. The procedure is short and require hospital stay. Although as of now the procedure is not covered by insurance bodies in many countries, the procedure is cheap when compared to knee reconstructive operation.
At the rate at which autologous stem cells therapy is gaining popularity, it may only be a matter of time before appropriate insurance policies are developed to cover the mode of treatment. The safety of the procedure may also become a consideration for the insurance industry since their risks are highly lowered.
In a study titled ‘Stem cell therapy for knee ligament, articular cartilage and meniscal injuries’ and published in the ‘Current Stem Cell Research and Therapy’ of November 2013, the authors concluded that in view of the poor blood supply to knee ligaments, healing was poor and slow. They added that autologous or allogeneic stem cells transplantation held the key to potential healing of the knee ligaments and other knee tissues.