For the many people suffering from joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other degenerative conditions, the only available treatments have been NSAIDs (like ibuprofen and naproxen) followed by injections (steroids, hyaluronic acid), and, ultimately for many, partial or full joint replacement. While steroids and hyaluronic acid can buy some time, they are only effective for weeks to months, and there are drawbacks to prolonged usage of both. For many years the holy grail of joint pain research has been stem cell therapy, and very recently this therapy has become a reality for patients suffering from a wide variety of forms of joint pain.
Most patients are all too well aware of the drawbacks of traditional options for joint pain. Joint replacements are major surgeries with significant recovery periods, and patients often require months of physical therapy after their surgeries to regain the ability to walk without assistance from a walker or cane.
The goal of stem cell therapy is to significantly reduce joint pain and enable patients to resume living active lives without having to undergo grueling joint replacements. While there has been a good deal of controversy over some forms of stem cell research, specifically that involving embryonic cells, newer therapies have recently been developed that enable doctors to harvest a form of stem cells from the patient’s own fat tissue. This fat contains, among other materials, a high proportion of cells known as mesenchymal stem cells.
Techniques have been developed that allow doctors to extract fats cells via a mini liposuction procedure. Using a specialized tool, doctors are able to separate a substance known as stromal vascular fraction (SVF) from the fat cells. SVF is rich in both mesenchymal stem cells and growth factors. The SVF is then re-injected into the patient during the same visit, completing the procedure, usually within about 3 hours.
The mesenchymal stem cells in SVF have the capacity to remain dormant until they reach an area of injured or damaged tissue. It is the injury that activates these stem cells, beginning a process of healing the damaged tissue, such as worn or eroded cartilage. Interestingly, it is not yet clear whether mesenchymal stem cells directly repair the cartilage or whether they instead induce the repairs through an indirect mechanism. There is, however, good evidence that mesenchymal stem cells are significant to the reparative process.
OC Regenerative Medicine is now able to offer mesenchymal stem cell therapy to certain patients with significant joint pain. Patients must first be evaluated by our medical staff to determine if they are a candidate for the therapy.
If you would like more information or if you would like to find out if you might be a candidate for stem cell therapy, feel free to contact us through our web form or call us at 949.247.8844.