There are numerous causes of joint pain, but by far the most common is osteoarthritis. In 2015, 15 million adults reported severe joint pain due to arthritis with it being the leading cause of work disability. As if missed work days from pain and not being able to enjoy the activities you once took for granted wasn’t hard enough, treating arthritic joint pain is notoriously tricky.
Conservative treatment methods such as anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections can only achieve so much in reducing pain, because they don’t address what’s causing the problem. Because the arthritis is still there and continuing to progress, invasive surgical intervention with joint replacements is often the logical next step.
Stem cell therapy deals directly with the damage caused by osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis causes the gradual degeneration of the cartilage in each joint. The cartilage is there to cushion the bones of the joint and prevent them from grinding together during everyday use. Cartilage is designed to withstand a certain level of wear and tear over time. But osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down faster, so it’s no longer able to cushion and protect the joint, which causes chronic pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
It’s not known precisely why osteoarthritis has this effect on cartilage, but common factors leading to the development of osteoarthritis include:
- Joint injury
- Family history
Stem cell therapy helps repair the broken-down cartilage to restore function and bring relief to the pain caused by arthritis. Stem cells can also be used to treat other causes of joint pain including torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as rheumatoid conditions and unexplained chronic pain.
Stem cell therapy is effective for treating chronic joint pain
There’s a particular kind of stem cell we use for treating joint pain -- mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) -- which replicate and produce different types of musculoskeletal tissue to repair cartilage and restore function back to the affected joint.
During stem cell therapy with us at South Texas Spinal Clinic, Dr. Hirsch obtains these stem cells directly from your hip, which has a rich source of MSCs in the bone marrow. This is done under intravenous light sedation and a local anesthetic.
We separate out the MSCs from the other stem cells found in the bone marrow and use them to create the injection. Sometimes Dr. Hirsch adds platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to the stem cell concentrate. PRP contains growth factors that stimulate new tissue growth and improve the effectiveness of the stem cells.
The stem cells are then injected directly into the affected joint, assisted by ultrasound to ensure they reach the precise area where they’re needed. The entire procedure from bone marrow extraction to stem cell injection takes around 60 minutes.
Stem cell therapy works for injured and diseased joints
When the mesenchymal stem cells, with or without platelet-rich plasma, are injected directly into the affected joint, they can promote healing by:
- Reducing inflammation in the joint
- Promoting new cell growth and preventing the premature death of existing cells
- Stimulating the growth of new blood vessels to improve blood supply to the joint
- Encouraging the growth of new connective tissues, cartilage, muscle, and bone
- Limiting the activation and effects of harmful immune cells
Stem cell therapy can prevent the need for invasive and painful surgery while relieving chronic pain and other symptoms in the affected joint.
To find out more about stem cell injections for your painful joints, contact South Texas Spinal Clinic by calling our office or booking online today.