Over 100 million Americans across the country are desperately searching for a solution that will save their knees and stem cell therapy may be the fix they’ve been hoping for.
Knee pain comes along with some pretty scary statistics that paint a bleak future ahead for people suffering from the condition. Knee pain is the second most common cause of chronic pain. If you’re a woman, you’re more likely to be plagued with pain in your knees, and well over 20% of women are at risk. In fact, over 60% of the knee replacement surgeries performed in the country are done on female patients. About fifteen to twenty percent of men are at risk of developing knee pain at some point in their lifetime. Over 80% of people suffering from chronic pain experience severe sleep disruptions, over 70% of people with chronic pain report temporary or chronic depression stemming from their pain. About 700,000 patients undergo knee surgery each year and by the year 2030, that number is expected to increase to over 3 million and the average age of knee replacement surgery patients is 70 years old. Knee replacement surgery is highly invasive and difficult to recover from but, what other option do patients have to eliminate pain other than risky surgery? Stem cells may be the answer to that question.
When we talk about the fate of our knees, it’s important to point out that immobility may be the most life-altering result of severe knee pain but it’s in good company with other debilitating outcomes. Knee pain can rob you of enjoying your life. It can be the determining factor in the places you visit, the activities you perform, your ability to work, your ability to travel and even your ability to maintain your independence and live unassisted. Chronic knee pain can mean a lifetime dependency on pain medications or NSAIDs. Chronic knee pain can also lead to pain in other joints because of your knee joint instability or disuse syndrome. Knee pain can lead to pain in the hips, feet, back, neck, and shoulders if left unchecked.
Your knee joint is one of the hardest working joints in your body. It’s comprised of three bones: the femur or thigh bone, the tibia or shinbone, and the patella or kneecap. Your knee joint needs to be strong enough to support your weight as well as absorb the shocks from the impact of running, walking, sitting and standing. The knee is a hinge joint meaning that it allows your leg to bend and straighten. There are two things assisting the healthy function of that hinge, the articular cartilage, and meniscus. Both the articular cartilage and the meniscus (a thick layer of cartilage) serve as a cushion between the bones in your knee and makes the hinge movements smooth and fluid. Many of the most common knee conditions resulting in knee pain are the result of damage to or the deterioration of the cartilage in your knee. When cartilage is missing, your bones rub together causing painful friction and pain because you don’t have a cushion to absorb the shock of your movements.
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Chronic knee pain is commonly the result of one of these diagnoses: osteoarthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, meniscus tears or chondromalacia patella. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that is caused by chronic inflammation attacking the joint and eroding the protective cartilage. About 12 million people over the age of 25 are at risk for developing osteoarthritis in their knees. Both tendinitis and bursitis are caused by aggressive inflammation as well attacking the tendons and bursae in your knee. Chondromalacia patella is characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage that protects the underside of your kneecap. Common treatments for these conditions often fall short of the mark. Patients may experience a temporary reduction to the pain, but many still end up going under the knife in the end.
To read a success story about how stem cell therapy helped a patient’s knee injury, see this report from 6ABC Action News: New hope for patients suffering from knee injuries.
Common Knee Pain Fixes
Fix #1: Medication
Both pain medication and NSAIDs are the common go to for immediate knee pain relief. Many patients began self-medicating with over the counter pain drugs long before they make an appointment with their doctor to explore knee pain options. While occasional pain medication
use can be okay, the regular use of pain meds to combat chronic knee pain can be troublesome.
Long-term use of pain medications can lead to gastrointestinal issues like constipation, chronic bloating and abdominal cramping. About 45% of people who take pain medications regularly are affected. Long-term NSAID use has also been linked to severe gastrointestinal issues like nausea, diarrhea, constipation and chronic gas. Prolonged use of pain medication also puts patients at a higher risk for cardiovascular issues, irregular breathing while sleeping and
increased pain sensitivity, a condition called hyperalgesia. Pain medications and NSAIDs may offer temporary pain relief, but they could sign you up for a list of additional medications that you need to take to combat the side effects they cause.
Fix #2: Steroid Injections
Corticosteroid and hyaluronic injections are usually recommended for patients who have moderate to severe knee pain and have had little to no relief from medication. These injections help with swelling and inflammation but are only recommended for short-term use. Steroid injections work fast relieving pressure and pain in some patients within 48 hours, but the benefit is short lived. On average, most steroid injections wear off within six weeks and have a decreased pain relief effect with each round of injections. Steroid injections can cause thinning of the soft tissue in the knee, osteoporosis, nerve damage, joint infection and can restrict the cells that make cartilage.
Fix #3: Surgery
Knee joint replacement surgery is a highly invasive and risky procedure. As we age, going under sedation for surgery becomes increasingly more dangerous and considering the average age for knee joint replacement is 70 years old, many patients don’t want to take the chance of the procedure. Knee replacement surgery involves cutting the knee joint out of your leg and replacing it with a prosthetic hinge joint. The recovery from the surgery can be excruciatingly painful leaving patients immobile and unstable for up to six months after the surgery. Knee surgery risks include blood clots, infection, and other invasive surgery complications up to and including death.
Post surgery, knee replacement prosthetics have the potential to wear out within anywhere from 10 to 15 years after the placement and revision surgery for failed replacements is quite common. An incorrectly placed or unstable prosthetic can cause the bones around the prosthetic to fracture resulting in increased pain and loss of mobility.
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Stem Cell Treatment for Knees to the Rescue!
The biggest allure to stem cell therapy for patients living with knee pain is the absence of the laundry list of side effects that come along with the common treatment options. Stem cell therapy works with your body’s natural regeneration and healing process to replace the damaged cells in your knee and reverse the effects of the condition causing your knee pain. Depending on your treatment preferences and doctor recommendation, you may receive stem cells harvested from your own bone marrow or fat cells or stem cells from donated cord blood for your therapy. Stem cell therapy treatments are fast acting and work immediately to command growth factors and cytokines to your knee to begin rebuilding tissue, tendons, cartilage, ligaments and even bone to stabilize your joint. Stem cells also work with your immune system to regulate your inflammation response and reduce pain. You may require more than one round of stem cell therapy treatments depending on your needs, but stem cell therapy is a long-term solution to your knee condition. The therapy focuses on regenerating and rebuilding your joint and goes beyond the ability of the common temporary fixes for knee pain. To date, no adverse reactions to stem cell therapy for knees has been reported.
Stem cell therapy may be the solution you have been searching for to end your chronic knee pain. If you’ve found yourself losing hope as you move through the common treatment options available for your knee condition, you owe it to yourself and your health to explore what stem cell therapy could do for you. Talk to a stem cell therapy specialist to discuss your specific needs and unique health concerns to find out if the treatment may be right for you.
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