Those with bad knees know how much it hurts to live life. Simple things like moving bring about pain with each step they take, causing them to dread even getting out of bed each morning. Osteoarthritis, or knee arthritis, usually require surgery to treat. However, thanks to new technology in regenerative medicine (or stem cell therapy), knee replacement surgery isn’t the only option for knee pain anymore.
Stem cell treatments are gaining in popularity thanks to being effective and non-invasive. These treatments can grow into different types of cells, which is why they’re ideal for a number of conditions, including knees. Stem cells are injected into the knee to help repair cartilage and reduce pain. Right now, it’s still new and fresh, with many studies and research is still being done on its effectiveness.
What Is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative Medicine uses stem cells to repair the body. After all, they’re essentially the building blocks of all our bodies. Stem cells are found in blood, bone marrow blood and adipose tissues that derive from the same family of cells, which form cartilage, joints, ligaments, muscles, menisci and bone. These cells are helpful in repairing joints in your body.
When you’re first conceived, you start out as a bunch of stem cells that will then develop into nerve cells, skin cells, liver cells, etc. Then as we continue to grow, our bodies will also produce more stem cells to maintain important bodily systems. Because stem cells are so important, they can be used to treat a variety of other tissues all over the body, including cartilage, ligaments and tendons in your knees.
Pros and Cons of Knee Replacement Surgery
The only real pro of knee replacement surgery is the fact that it’s been around for a long time and is a trusted way to help with knee pain. A knee replacement can last up to 20 years if taken care of properly. Obviously, the very invasive procedure will provide less pain and more mobility, but the surgical aspect isn’t as great, which is the biggest con. It’s better to try everything else before resulting to surgery since it’s so invasive. And there are many cons to surgery, including the risk of going under, infection, bleeding, loosening of the new joint in the future and more.
Another con of knee replacement surgery is the risk of a heart attack, which is actually 31% higher in those who have had joint replacement surgery (especially in the first two weeks after the surgery), according to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine back in 2012. That’s because the body is more prone to forming blood clots after the surgery.
Because it’s a major surgery, patient will also have to a long recovery and must continue to have follow-up post-op care. It’s a long process that is tiresome, painful and invasive, which is why knee replacement surgery is the last option that doctors recommend to their patients.
Pros and Cons of Regenerative Medicine for Knees
Because of the risks associated with knee replacement surgery, doctors make it a last resort. Those risks can be very scary, but if you’re in so much pain, you’ll do anything to feel relief! That’s why many are choosing stem cell therapy as an alternative to knee replacement surgery. All of those risks associated with the invasive procedure go out the window!
The biggest risk associated with this form of therapy is infection, but that risk is common with any injections. However, it’s very rare because the entire procedure is very invasive.
While the cons for stem cell therapy for knee pain is short, the pro list is very impressive. In terms of pain, there’s not much. Side effects are very minimal and might include swelling, joint stiffness, and some mild pain at the site of the injection. Compared to knee replacement surgery stem cell injections are quick. The equipment and labs are all in-house and the simple outpatient procedure can be done in a few hours at the office. Plus, the cost is much more affordable and reasonable compared to surgery.
The consultation, exams and treatment are all fairly cheap as well, and you won’t see your bills add up like your surgery bills would. You can owe tens of thousands of dollars with knee replacement surgery!
Also, regenerative medicine for knees is totally natural and no synthetic stem cells are used. You also won’t have to worry about donor cells, either, from other adults or embryos because the procedures use your own stem cells that are taken from your own body.
This makes the procedure even safer and reduces the risk of a bad reaction.Stem cell therapy risks increase if different types of stem cells are used or if they are taken from the patient and then grown in a lab.
But the biggest advantage is probably the fact that recovery time is minimal, so you don’t have to worry about being out of commission for months at a time as you would be with knee surgery. You’ll be able to walk out of the session on your own and you’ll be able to go about your daily routine as normal the days following the procedure. Then in a few weeks, you’ll be able to up your activity levels and do so much more without the pain!
Besides anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or pain medications, stem cell therapy seems to be the most promising alternative to invasive knee replacement surgery. Although regenerative medicine for knees is still new, it’s showing much promise for patients looking for relief from knee pain. The studies are very promising and soon it’ll be the best option for patients everywhere.