Orthopaedists utilize stem cell therapy to treat arthritis because it can stimulate healing and reduce inflammation in the joints. Orthopaedic Surgeon Domenick J. Sisto, MD, breaks down the basics of stem cell therapy and how it can help people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Q: What are stem cells?
Stem cells are unspecialized cells in the body that function as an internal repair system because they can divide almost without limit to nourish and replace other cells. As a result of these unique properties, stem cells can regenerate damaged tissue and can be induced to regrow as specialized cells like muscle, brain and blood cells.
Q: What is stem cell therapy and how does it work?
Using stem cells to repair diseased cells is sometimes called regenerative medicine, and it has the potential to offer minimally invasive treatment solutions for conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. During stem cell therapy, a patient receives stem cells harvested from their own body and transplanted to replace and heal the diseased, injured or defective tissue in another part of the body.
Q: How does it help for osteoarthritis in the knee?
Stem cell therapy can decrease the inflammation and pain secondary to damaged cartilage tissue in the knee, which may be worn from injury, aging or obesity. For knees affected by osteoarthritis, it may be possible to use stem cell therapy to promote faster healing and reduce inflammation and pain. It could be an alternative to or a preliminary option to try before joint replacement surgery for the knee.
Q: Who might be a good candidate for stem cell therapy for knees?
Stem cell therapy for knee osteoarthritis is relatively new but has proven to be effective for some patients. Stem cell therapy works best for people who have localized cartilage damage, not for those diagnosed with bone on bone arthritis. Following stem cell therapy procedures, patients should be able to do more physical therapy to promote healing.
If you need a referral to a physician at Palmdale Regional Medical Center, call our free referral service at 1-800-851-9780.