One of the commonly treated areas of the body using stem cell therapy is the knee joint. It has been the most researched use of stem cells in regenerative orthopedic medicine. Knee pain is one of the leading causes of pain, 2 nd only to low back and spinal pain.
To answer the question, “How successful is stem cell therapy for knees?” we wanted to look at the multitude of conditions that stem cell treatments are used for treating the knee joint. The level of “success” will be determined by several factors, based on the condition being treated and the type of stem cell or regenerative procedure that
is being done.
For example: treating a meniscus tear in the knee may have a different outcome than treating a phase 2 or 3 osteoarthritic condition of the knee. At Stem Cell: The Magazine, we’ve decided to give our readers an informative review of some common conditions of the knee they are treated using stem cell therapy or other regenerative procedures. (Platelet Rich Plasma)
A Primer On Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Procedures
Before we review the conditions of the knee that stem cell treatments are used for treating, we wanted to give you a primer on the different types of stem cell and regenerative medicine treatments that are commonly used in orthopedic
Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells
Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cell Therapy has been used the longest in treating orthopedic conditions. Even though stem cell therapy is considered a new medical treatment, bone marrow derived stem cells have been used in medicine since the 1970s. Most doctors consider bone marrow the gold standard for regenerative medicine because of the make up the particular types of cells that are found in Bone Marrow. For example; Hemotopoietic Stem Cells that help create new blood vessels are repair bone and muscle are important for joint repair, research has shown that BMDSC’s have a higher concentration of these types of cells. Another is Osteochrondralreticular cells, that help repair cartilage and joint damage.
Adipose-Derived Stem Cells
Adipose-derived stem cells are taken directly from fat stores in your body. By using a liposuction type procedure, doctors are able to take mesenchymal stem cells that are stored in your adipose tissue, and through a process called stromal fraction, separate stem cells from fat reserves to be used in joint repair. Some doctors prefer the use of Adipose-Derived stem therapy because of the higher number of mesenchymal cells that can be harvested from a liposuction procedure.
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Cord Tissue Cell Therapy
Umbilical Cord Tissue derived Cell Therapy are regenerative cells taken from tissues that are donated from healthy c-section births. The umbilicord tissue was donated from a mother the chose to donate her tissue so that is can be harvested for the use in regenerative medicine. These tissues have high amounts of mesenchymal stem cells, growth factors, cytokines and other regenerative cells that are vital for tissue repair.
Amniotic Cell Therapy
Amniotic Cell Therapy is similar to cord tissue derived cell therapy in that it is taken from donated c-section births. The amniotic cell layer is then processed and stored in the use of regenerative procedures. It is important to note that amniotic cell therapy does not contain live stem cells. These have been marketed recently by providers around the country, claiming that these procedures have live stem cells, however, the in the process of collected these cells and cryo-freezing and storing them, the stem cells are viable. Amniotic cell therapy does however contain cells that are important to healing, like growth factors and cytokines that aid in the healing process.
Common Conditions of the Knees Treated with Stem Cell & Regenerative Procedures
The most commonly treated condition of the knee using stem cell therapy is Knee Osteoarthritis. Osteoathritis of the knee is occurs when the normal cartilage of the knee joint is worn down and degenerated to the point where the bones begin to rub more closely and cause chronic inflammation and pain.
Studies have shown that when stem cells are injected into the knee joint, these cells release growth factors and attract other cells that stimulate cartilage repair and
There are several research articles that show evidence that this is a valid treatment for knee arthritis pain. One thing to note is that most of the research and clinic trials
have all centered on using bone marrow derived stem cells as the type of regenerative therapy used.
Researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida have conducted the world’s first prospective, blinded and placebo-controlled clinical study to test the benefit of using bone marrow stem cells to reduce arthritic pain and disability in knees. The findings in The American Journal of Sports Medicine represent another first—patients not only had a dramatic improvement in the knee that received stem cells, but also in their other knee, which also had painful arthritis but received only a saline control injection. Each of the 25 patients enrolled in the study had two bad knees, but did not know which knee received the stem cells.
Here is the video that explains more of the clinic trail:
The Meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee and also protects movement and stability of the knee. A common condition that occurs in the knee is when the meniscus tears due to injury or sports activities. It is common in sports like skiing, football and soccer for knee meniscus tears to occur.
The typical treatment for meniscus tears depends on the level of severity and dysfunction. Most tears are small and can heal using conservative treatments: ice, rest, pain relievers and decreased activity.
But large tears can require surgical repair. However, it’s these surgical repair or removal of meniscus tissue that can cause even more damage to the meniscus. And a recent study showed that there was virtual no difference in outcomes between physical therapy and surgical repair of meniscus repairs.
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Stem Cell Therapy is a viable treatment alternative because it doesn’t’ require removal of meniscus tissue that can potentially further damage the cartilage. Stem cell treatment can help heal the damaged cartilage and reduce pain and
The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery has several articles that state regeneration of tissue can occur with meniscus tears. One such article published in 2014 states the following:
“There was evidence of meniscus regeneration and improvement in knee pain
following treatment with allogeneic human mesenchymal stem cells. These results support the study of human mesenchymal stem cells for the apparent knee-tissue regeneration and protective effects.”
This video from Dr.David Greene, MD of R3 Stem Cell also explains the clinical research and trials of Meniscal Tears using Stem Cell Therapy:
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a tissue that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) at the knee. It’s responsible for movement and stabilization of the knee joint. Most ACL injuries occur during sports related
activities such as soccer, football, tennis and skiing. Over 200,000 cases of ACL injuries happen each year in the US.
The Median Cruciate Ligament (MCL) is a tissue that runs down through the inner part of the knee connecting the thigh (femor) bone to the shinbone (tibia). Injuries to the MCL usually occur due to a blunt force or trauma to knee which tears or injuries this ligament.
Physical Therapy and surgery have been the common treatments that most patients have used for recovery from these types of knee injuries. The challenge with surgery is the healing and recovery time, and the function of the knee joint
afterward. The healing time can take up to 6-12 months for recovery, with a decrease in functionality and stability of the knee joint afterward.
Stem Cell Therapy is a valid treatment for ACL and MCL tears because it doesn’t require painful surgery or recovery time. Research studies have shown the ability for stem cells to not only hear ACL tears but help develop new tissue and ligament scaffolding within the knee joint.
Here’s a publication on what stem cells can do for ACL’s: Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Enhancing Biologic Healing after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries by Jang KM, Lim HC, Bae JH1.
Dr. Chris Centeno, MD of Regenexx shows how the procedures for Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells (Plus) PRP are used in the treatment of an ACL injury.
If you’re suffering from chronic knee pain due to injuries, traumas or arthritis pain, before considering surgery, think about stem cell or regenerative medicine. In most cases, you’ll find a decreased recovery time versus surgery, and healthier outcomes.
If you’re interested in learning more about how stem cell therapy can help your chronic health condition, please sign-up for our Free 101 Guide to Stem Cell Therapy or join our Facebook group.
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