Stem Cell Therapy for Knees
As we age, load-bearing joints like our knees lose their lubrication and the cartilage wears down. Stem cell therapy is a procedure which uses the body’s own regenerative mechanisms to not only slow down the inflammation process, but also potentially heal damaged tissue through cartilage regeneration.
This breakthrough technology involves harvesting stem cells from one part of the body and transplanting them to another, initiating and supporting the regenerative processes. At Reflex, we take stem cells from adipose (fat) tissue, which has the highest known concentration of stem cells in the body.
How does stem cell therapy help heal the knee?
The human body is made of trillions of cells. Each hour, millions of these cells die and must be replaced. Undifferentiated (or not fully programmed) stem cells are the source of this healing – they are how our bodies continually repair themselves.
Because of their regenerative capabilities, these undifferentiated stem cells have the potential to significantly shift the balance in a degenerative condition into a regenerative one. For those suffering from knee osteoarthritis, this is important since stem cells have the potential to differentiate into cartilage cells. Stem cell therapy capitalizes on this quality of undifferentiated cells, to initiate restorative activities – and, in some reported cases, actually produce new cartilage in an osteoarthritic knee.
Who uses stem cell therapy for knee pain?
For years now, stem cells have generated growing interest in the medical community, as a way to counter disease and degeneration. It has been brought into the spotlight by professional athletes like Peyton Manning (football), Bartolo Colon (baseball), Rafael Nadal (tennis), and more – all of whom sought stem cell treatments to relieve pain and boost performance.
But thanks to recent developments in stem cell research, the benefits of the procedure can span far beyond professional sports. Historically, it was believed that stem cells were most highly concentrated in bone marrow, and drilling into bone (usually the pelvis) was required to harvest the cells. This is invasive and can cause considerable pain. In recent years it has been discovered that adipose (fat) tissue has more than 500 times the concentration of adult stem cells than bone marrow. Harvesting the cells from adipose tissue is less painful and has fewer complications.
Although still considered experimental by the FDA, stem cell therapy has increasingly been used as a practical treatment for any individuals suffering from knee pain – whether from age, overuse, or a previous injury. Read about how Stem Cell Transplantation has helped our own, Dr. Lawson.
What does the procedure involve?
Stem cell therapy is a relatively non-invasive procedure performed right at the Reflex clinic. There is little down time, and most people are able to return to their job or daily activities within a day following the procedure.
The Autologous Adipose-Derived Stem Cell Transplantation (AADSCT) procedure involves harvesting stem cells in a mini-liposuction procedure called ‘lipoaspiration,’ during which adipose is removed from the abdominal wall, thighs or flank area using a harvesting cannula. The stem cells are then isolated, concentrated, and combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This mixture is then injected into the affected knee(s) using fluoroscopic guidance. The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes to complete.
This blend of highly regenerative cells, platelets, and growth factors provides the most advanced means to promote the healing of damaged cartilage – helping you get back to life.
Why is PRP used with Stem Cells?
One of the most important functions of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in this procedure is that it recruits any stem cells in the area to participate in the healing/regenerative cascade. The problem is, there are very few stem cells in our knees, so the PRP has a very limited number of recruits. With stem cell treatment, millions of stem cells are harvested from fat, and combined with PRP. This mixture provides the optimal biologic cells and growth factors to promote cartilage repair.
The result? Significant relief of chronic knee pain, increased mobility, and much longer-term effects than other therapies. Not to mention – since it uses cells that come from a patient’s own body – the treatment does not trigger an immune response and causes minimal side effects.
Call us today at (503) 719–6783 to schedule an evaluation of your knee, and learn if you’re a candidate for stem cell transplantation.
Despite the growing interest in this biological approach for cartilage regeneration, knowledge on this topic is still preliminary. Cartilage regeneration has been demonstrated in animal and human stem cell studies; however, stem cell transplantation has not yet been explored through randomized controlled clinical trials. Therefore the treatments described herein are still considered experimental and have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.