If you have joint pain, life can be tough. You might not be able to enjoy the activities you once loved. You may need help doing chores that once were easy. You may even need to change your living situation. Fortunately, because joint pain is such a common malady, doctors have devised dozens of treatments to help sufferers. You can change your lifestyle, your diet, or undergo physical therapy. You can take medication. Or, you can get stem cell treatments, one of the most promising new therapies for joint pain. To somebody unfamiliar with the term, the idea of being treated with human stem cells can seem a little intimidating, even a bit like science fiction. Here’s a quick introduction to stem cell therapy for joint pain, to help you decide whether stem cell therapy is right for you.
Explaining stem cells
First, what, exactly, are stem cells? You may have heard about them in the news, or read about them online. Maybe you’ve even encountered them in a science textbook. Stem cells are the body’s raw materials — cells that divide into other types of cells. When a single stem cell divides, its “daughter cells” can become heart cells, blood vessels, or bone cells. Once those cells have specialized, they retain the ability to divide and replicate themselves, but they can no longer become different types of cells on their own. Stem cells are most common in fetal tissue, though adults have stem cells as well, most famously in their bone marrow.
However, most cells in the adult body are not stem cells, and adults slowly lose their ability to produce several types of tissue as they age. This includes cartilage, the padding between our bones. The slow reduction in cartilage results in wear and tear injuries to the joints, especially the knees, shoulders, and back, and, as any sufferer knows, the pain from this wear and tear can be debilitating. Stem cells, however, have shown great promise as a therapeutic technique to restore that damaged tissue. For this reason, stem cell therapy for joint pain has become especially popular in recent years. According to WebMd, 500 clinics are offering stem cell therapy in the United States.
How the therapy works
The theory behind the therapy is simple. Once the patient is injected with stem cells, either their own cells or from an embryonic source, those stem cells will differentiate into fresh cartilage and other connective tissue, restoring some of the padding that has been lost from wear and tear. This type of treatment is relatively new, but it has shown signs of promise, especially in patients who have undergone surgery to restore damaged or torn cartilage after surgery.
According to the experts at Stem Cell Westchester (nadstemcell.com), the effectiveness of stem cell therapy is because of several unique factors. First, stem cells have properties that help control pain and inflammation by tamping down the body’s painful inflammatory reaction to joint injuries. This is because of interleukins in various stem cell therapy procedures that naturally moderate the body’s immune response. Thus, a patient will not need to take extra medication to reduce swelling or inflammation. The stem cell company also says “regenerative medicine therapies are non-surgical procedures that take a minimal amount of time with faster recoveries, are completely natural with no need to take pain medications,” meaning that stem cell therapy requires fewer medicinal risks than traditional therapies.
Stem cell therapy is indeed the cutting edge of medicine, but its success is leading to widespread adoption. For anyone suffering from joint pain, it’s an attractive therapeutic prospect.