Stem cell therapy for knees offers the hope of a possible cure for osteoarthritis. The development of stem cells into the cartilage layers of the bones has been used for decades to treat such ailments as leukemia and various forms of cancer. Stem cell therapy is still being researched, but for some people it may hold the answer for long-term relief of pain. A recent study in China, funded by the National Institutes of Health, showed promise that the procedure might be effective for osteoarthritis in the knee.
While stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis has proven successful in the research lab, it is not yet available on a large scale in the United States. While stem cell injections into the arthritic knee are now a common treatment, few insurance companies cover the entire cost of this painful knee stem cell treatment procedure. Surgical options such as physical therapy or surgery only diminish over time, meaning the small cost benefit study often seems moot. Patients and their doctors must decide if the physical therapy and surgery are a realistic treatment option for the patient.
The potential for a new form of arthritis relief is a subject of much debate. While some doctors believe it will be too difficult to create an entirely new system for the knees, others believe that stem cell therapy for knees therapy is the answer. Either way, the procedure is not yet approved by the FDA and there are risks involved in undergoing it. Physical therapy, while widely used for treating arthritis, may actually make the condition worse.
Stem cell injection therapy uses the patient’s own stem cells, taken from the body, directly into the damaged cartilage. The stem cells are grafted directly into the damaged cartilage, encouraging the formation of new, healthy tissue. This new tissue replaces the damaged portion of the knee cap and provides pain relief. Physical therapy also aids in the development of new cartilage and strength within the knee joint. Stem cells provide a unique opportunity for athletes with knee injuries to heal faster through active rehabilitation therapy.
Many critics of stem cell treatments point out that the long-term effects of such treatments have not been fully tested. It is possible they could cause the deterioration of bones and other tissues in the body. It is also not completely clear how stem cell treatments will impact the function of the immune system over time. Many researchers agree more research is needed to better understand how stem cells affect the body’s various functions. One controversy is the idea that the body builds up immunity to specific foreign substances injected into the body; stem cell treatments might add a new problem altogether. Scientists are also unsure how long stem cell treatments will be effective in knee replacement surgeries.
Stem cell injections into the knee have proven successful for many patients who are in need of knee pain treatment. They are very effective for relieving pain and reducing inflammation. The potential side effects of stem cell injections must be carefully considered before undergoing surgery. Stem cells for knees can be a very beneficial part of knee pain treatment, but more research is needed to determine their safety and the extent of their effectiveness in treating different kinds of knee injuries and ailments.