What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the degradation of joints including articular cartilage and sub-chondral bone. Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, locking, and sometimes an effusion. OA is the most common form of arthritis, and the leading cause of chronic disability and affects 2 million people in Australia.
The main symptom is pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness and commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, although in theory, any joint in the body can be affected. As OA progresses, the affected joints appear larger, are stiff and painful, and usually feel better with gentle use but worse with excessive or prolonged use, thus distinguishing it from rheumatoid arthritis. The underlying pathology is the loss of cartilage tissue within the joint, and this is where Stem Cell Therapy can be of benefit, both in terms of the anti-inflammatory effects of the treatment, and the re-growth of cartilage within the joint.
Can Stem Cell therapy help arthritis sufferers?
Stem Cell Therapy for arthritis usually involves both direct injection into the joints (especially larger joints) and intravenous administration (which can be of benefit to both small and large joints throughout the body). These stem cells are called Adult stem cells and are derived using a simple mini-liposuction technique of fat harvesting. Fat cells have been found through extensive research to have many more stem cells than bone marrow, and is much easier to harvest.
The fat that is removed via the mini-liposuction is treated with enzymes to extract the stem cells from the fat cells, at which point the fat is discarded and the stem cells purified. These stem cells are called Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC’s) and have enormous regenerative capacity, including the ability to change into cartilage cells (chondrocytes) to repair damaged cartilage in joints, and bone cells (osteocytes) to repair bone in conditions such an non healing fractures or stress fractures as an alternative to surgery.
Is Stem Cell Therapy Better than Steroid Joint Injections or Surgery?
Being your own natural tissue, it can be of more benefit than steroid injections and many patients report that after stem cell therapy they no longer need to take pain relieving medications and anti-inflammatory medications. Patients also report holding off or cancelling drastic joint replacement surgery as well.
Stem cell therapy may be repeated. Current studies indicate the strong possibility of a cumulative effect from multiple stem cell therapies a patient received for their condition.
What joints can be treated using Stem Cells?
Almost any joint or area can be treated with stem cell therapy. Larger joints such as knees, hips and shoulders are best treated with a direct injection of stem cells into the joint itself, whereas smaller joints such as fingers and thumbs can be treated with small injections into the joint in addition to intravenous stem cell therapy.
Has Dermamed been performing stem cell therapy for a while?
Yes! The doctors at Dermamed have been using stem cells as part of international programs and protocols for many years with fantastic results. Working in collaberation with doctors all over the world, doctors at Dermamed have been assisting in the advancement of stem cell therapy as a viable alternative to invasive surgery for joint replacements. Studies have consistently shown regrowth of cartilage using stem cell therapy into joints.