FAQ’s on Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells produced by the bone marrow are cells that have not yet been assigned a role. They can be formed into any type of cell the body needs, including skin cells, muscle cells, bone, cartilage, or any number of specialized cells the body functions with.
Treatments for Joint Problems
Patients faced with joint problems are often disappointed by the lack of effective treatments available. While painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy can provide some relief, options for the long term treatment of certain conditions affecting the joints are often restricted to joint replacement. One example is osteoarthritis (OA), a condition affecting the bone and cartilage of the patient\’s joints. OA causes stiffness and pain, which can become quite severe and disabling. While joint replacement is an option for advanced cases, doctors are reluctant to recommend this kind of intervention for younger patients.
Cell Cultures Offer Hope
One alternative to joint replacement that has been used for almost two decades now involves harvesting chondrocytes cartilage cells from your body\’s own cartilage. These cells are then re-introduced into the tissues of the affected joint, where they can grow to form robust new areas of cartilage tissue. Although very effective for some patients, this therapy has mixed results. The cartilage regrowth isn\’t always what one might hope for.
Another drawback is that chondrocytes can only repair cartilage tissue. Because they\’re not the same type of cell as bone cells, chondrocytes can\’t help to repair damage affecting the bones of the joint.
Stem Cells from Bone Marrow
There have been many studies exploring the possibilities offered by stem cells in repairing damaged tissue. Stem cells have a very important quality: they are what are known as undifferentiated cells, meaning, they have the potential to become any kind of cell: bone cells, cartilage cells, nerve cells, even brain cells. Stem cells can “copy” other differentiated cells if they\’re placed in contact with the appropriate kind of tissue.
Stem cells have attracted a great deal of controversy due to the fact that they are sometimes extracted from fetal tissue. New techniques allow stem cells to be cultured from your own tissues especially your bone marrow. These are generally termed adult stem cells to distinguish them from fetal stem cells.
Researchers theorized that if they added adult stem cells to the cell culture used to help repair damaged joints; patients might experience far superior outcomes to those obtainable from chondrocytes alone. Beginning in 2010, clinical trials using this new approach began in human test subjects. The initial twelve-month trial showed promising results. Since then, further work has been done on making the new stem-cell treatments more effective.
Stem cells themselves have been manipulated to improve their regenerative potential. New tissue scaffolding designs have helped to enhance results from regrown cartilage, improving its mechanical properties and helping the new cartilage to integrate more fully with the joint. Other approaches involve injecting stem cell culture directly into the joint. Studies are still ongoing and it seems likely that improvements in treatment will continue.
While cell culture treatments aren\’t exactly in widespread use yet, you can obtain this kind of therapy via some specialized clinics. Although results are not guaranteed with the new therapies, they can offer hope to those who have not found relief through other, more conventional treatments. If you\’re managing your condition well using NSAIDs, supervised exercise, or any of the more usual medical therapies, you may not need to consider adult stem cell therapy
The California Pain Network connects individuals in pain with pain providers throughout San Diego County, Los Angeles County and more. If you are dealing with chronic pain and would like the option of regenerative medicine, contact the Network today at (619) 500-1573!