5 Things you need to know about stem cells for joint treatment
1.) How do stem cells work in joint treatments?
Stem cells are located throughout our bodies and what makes them so exciting is their ability to self-renew by division and duplication and to differentiate, as they can develop into different types of cells.
Essentially, they can regenerate injured or deficient material within the body, causing new growth and replacement within the area of concern.
Scientific and medical development in the collection and use of stem cells has yielded a new method of treatment for injuries, for example, it is possible for stem cells to be injected directly into an affected area to support the repair and regeneration of tissues such as cartilage, tendon and bone. This is especially important if our joints are causing us increasing levels of pain or that we’re not able to move as freely as we get older.
The ability of stem cells to reduce pain and improve joint function put this treatment at the cutting-edge of science, and form part of a new field of regenerative medicine. Experts like Mr Fahad Attar, a Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon, are using the key properties of stem cells for treating many degenerative conditions like arthritis in the knee, hip and other joints.
Our expert Mr Fahad Attar said: "We use BMAC (Bone Marrow Aspirate Cells) as our source of these regenerative stem cells. These treatments have shown improved function and better pain relief by reducing inflammation in joints and helping to repair and regenerate tissues and cartilage".
2.) Can stem cells be used for osteoarthritis and sports injuries?
Stem cells can be applied to many conditions or injuries. This can be done in conjunction with a surgical procedure e.g. to repair a torn knee meniscus. Though, stem cell therapy is now readily available privately as an individual treatment in clinics such as Pall Mall Medical.
The procedure only requires a small operation to collect stem cells which are processed with growth enhancing factors from the patient’s own blood. They are then delivered precisely using medical imaging with an injection to the affected area.
What is amazing, is that this process is done as a day case procedure. With our busy lives, we don’t want to spend weeks or even months recovering from a major surgery. With stem cell injections, you can return straight back to your sport and daily life with almost no downtime at all because of the intervention itself.
'The indications for using these regenerative cells is so wide that we have seen improved outcomes and success in managing and treating both osteoarthritis and sports injuries'
Our expert Mr Fahad Attar said: "The indications for using these regenerative cells is so wide that we have seen improved outcomes and success in managing and treating both osteoarthritis and sports injuries".
3.) How safe are stem cell injections for joint treatments?
Stem cells are collected ‘autologously’ – directly from your own body. There are two basic forms of stem cell – the embryonic stem cell and adult stem cell. Adult stem cells are known as mesenchymal stem cells (or ‘MSCs’) and are of great interest to researchers, scientists and surgeons alike. MSCs are free of the controversy that surrounds the use of embryonic stem cells and give us the ability to repair and regenerate tissues such as cartilage and bone more effectively, especially when compared to the traditional routes of relief, such as having to take pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications.
The most common type of stem cells used for treating arthritis are mesenchymal stem cells. MSCs are usually collected from the patient’s bone marrow. Consequently, this is a natural treatment, with no man-made additives and there is no risk of disease transmission, rejection or ethical questions raised from using cells harvested from an unrelated or deceased donor.
Any surgical intervention to collect MSC stem cells does carry a degree of risk, however the surgical techniques used for stem cell therapy are the same as those for routine hip or knee arthroscopy operations.
The procedure is straight forward too. Bone marrow is usually taken from the pelvic bone using a needle and syringe, a process called bone marrow aspiration. Don’t worry, it’s not painful either! The procedure is done under general anaesthetic, so you won’t feel a thing.
Our expert Mr Fahad Attar said: "Mesenchymal stem cells taken from the bone marrow in your own hip bone, is a very safe, easy to perform and relatively straight forward procedure. This is done as a day case procedure with minimal risks and only takes a couple of hours".
4.) Stem cell therapy as an alternative to surgery
There are no guidelines restricting the use of stem cell therapy for degenerative joint conditions like arthritis. This means you can access this treatment even if you are not eligible for surgery under the NHS. Like most people, I wouldn’t want to endure a long recovery period from major surgery, so its also handy if you want to avoid it too!
The decision over who would benefit from a stem cell treatment is solely down to the patient and surgeon in a private consultation, such as that provided by Mr Attar at Pall Mall Medical. This is great advancement and offers a strong alternative option to undergoing major operations and joint replacements that may require a long journey of rehabilitation and recovery back to full fitness.
Our expert Mr Fahad Attar said: "The longer people keep and maintain their native joints the better. Joint replacement is a major surgery with risks and complications and in some cases the outcome is unpredictable. The BMAC Mesenchymal stem cell therapy offers a minimally invasive alternative to joint replacement surgery, in improving pain relief, joint function and delaying the need for joint replacements".
5.) Is stem cell therapy suitable for me?
There are many reasons why stem cells might be suitable for you. Beyond the benefits of eliminating pain and improve function in the affected area of the body, these therapy techniques may be relevant to a few underlying causes. Whether it’s to support an orthopaedic injury, a sports or fitness injury, arthritis/osteoarthritis, tendinopathy and tendinitis or delivered as required for other degenerative joint conditions.
As I’ve noted, it is often used as an alternative treatment, with the ability to repair and regenerate cartilage, tendon and bone without the need for major explorative, reconstructive or replacement surgery. It is also fast becoming an appropriate choice when conventional medical management from a GP, specialist or Physiotherapy has been unsuccessful to provide suitable relief.
Our expert Mr Fahad Attar said: "If you are suffering with joint pain, stiffness and poor function secondary to these problems or have sustained an injury through fitness, training or while playing sport that is taking time to heal, then this BMAC Mesenchymal stem cell therapy will be suitable for you and may help you return to your sport and function sooner".
Want To Find Out More?
Mesenchymal bone arrow stem cells are one of the best sources of stem cells that have the potential to regenerate the worn-out joint cartilage. This can help if you feel you have little or no functional improvement in your movement post injury or from natural ageing.
To find out more, come in and speak to our stem cell experts. Book an appointment now by calling 03300 58 44 55 or email email@example.com and you could be playing your favourite sport or running the next marathon again!
To see more about our expert Mr Fahad Attar, Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon - please read his profile here
To see more about our Stem Cell Therapy services - please see our regenerative medicine page here
Check out what other private healthcare services we can offer….