Osteoarthritis is easily the most common degenerative joint disease known to modern medicine. Millions of people around the world are affected by it. Unfortunately, it is a disease that can be linked to any combination of genetics, previous injury, and the simple process of aging. It can be an extremely painful disease as well. One way to address the pain is to receive stem cell treatments.
Up until a few years ago, the thought of stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis pain management was unheard of. Doctors treating osteoarthritis patients would recommend cortisone injections, steroids, pain medication, and joint replacement surgeries. None of those options is acceptable for some patients. Therefore, something else was needed. Stem cell therapy is that something for more and more people.
What Causes the Pain
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that manifests itself in lost cartilage. This cartilage, which normally acts as a shock absorber and protective pad between the two bones that form a joint, dies off and is not replaced. When enough cartilage is lost, bones begin to grind on one another. This is where the pain comes from.
The unfortunate reality of osteoarthritis is that there is no cure. The best we can do is manage pain or, if necessary, completely replace the affected joint. But even joint replacement is not guaranteed to mitigate pain. There are plenty of people who feel no better after joint replacement than they did before.
Long-term pain medication is another option doctors can recommend. But there are patients who do not like the prospect of taking painkillers for the rest of their lives. So how do they cope with the pain of osteoarthritis?
The Goal of Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is designed to manage osteoarthritis pain by encouraging the body to do what it naturally does, only better. In a young person who is otherwise healthy, a joint injury would result in the body initiating a healing process to replace damaged cartilage. Pain relievers would suffice during the healing process.
The body of an older person attempts to do the same thing, but age and joint damage work together to make healing more difficult. In addition, the tools the body uses to heal the damaged joint (think stem cells here) are not as plentiful or affective.
The goal of stem cell therapy is to help manage osteoarthritis pain by giving the body’s natural repair mechanisms an extra boost. Consider this: injected stem cells signal the body to send other materials that can help slow down or completely stop tissue loss. In some cases, they can also encourage the body to generate new cartilage.
Combining stem cell therapy with physical therapy can significantly reduce the pain of osteoarthritis in many patients. It is not a guaranteed fix for everyone, but it does work well enough for large numbers of patients who receive treatments at the hands of trained physicians.
Getting Trained in Stem Cell Therapy
So, how does a doctor actually get trained in stem cell therapy? By attending a training course provided by a company like Utah-based Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI). Because the procedure is rather simple from a medical standpoint, doctors don’t have to undergo years of additional training on top of the training received in medical school. A weekend of training is usually sufficient.
Once doctors learn to use the procedure, they can return to their own practices where they can introduce it to their patients. A typical stem cell treatment for osteoarthritis takes about 90 minutes, from start to finish. Patients experience only minor discomfort and little to no risk of complications.