Are Stem Cell Treatments Proven to Repair Joints?
Here’s what you need to know…
- Adipose (fat) derived stem cell injections repair cartilage and bone defects (osteoarthritis)
- Adipose derived stem cell treatments improve joint mobility and reduce joint pain
- Like all medical procedures (including joint replacement), stem cell treatments work in the majority of patients and individual results may vary
- Stem cell treatments are the most proven medical treatment alternative to orthopaedic joint replacement surgery
- Although approximately 50 stem cell clinics have recently opened in Australia, the clinical evidence of treatment success continues to originate at international clinics
1. Stem Cell Treatments repair Osteoarthritis of Joints
Naturally, stem cells already play a role in tissue repair and regeneration throughout our lives (Caplan and Correa, 2011). Different types of stem cells are present in a range of tissues including circulating blood, umbilical cord blood, muscle, heart and adipose tissue (Kern et al. 2006).
Extensive medical research has since proven that stem cells are capable of growing into cartilage and/or bone, which provided the initial support for their use in patients for the treatment in osteoarthritis a decade ago (Diekman et al. 2010).
There is abundant evidence that confirms the ability of stem cells to improve the structure of cartilage and improve osteoarthritis. Stem cell treatments have been consistently documented in clinical research to regrow cartilage (Kelly et al, 2014; Jo et al, 2014), with biopsies proving that new articular cartilage is regenerated (Kuroda et al, 2007).
In a 2011 case series of 339 patients treated with stem cells, 90% of patients requiring total knee replacement no longer required surgery after stem cell treatment. (Centeno et al., 2011).
The stem cells taken from adipose (fat) tissue are a healthy mix of different types of stem cell (Dominici et al., 2006) with different characteristics. This allows them to respond to a range of cues coming from the painful tissues surrounding them, making them effective in treating both cartilage, bone, nerve and blood vessel disorders (Lo Surdo et al. 2012).
2. Stem Cell Treatments Improve Joint Mobility and Reduce Joint Pain
Stem cells significantly reduce the inflammation which is responsible for causing much of the pain and immobility associated with osteoarthritis. Stem cells also produce a range of active molecules that stimulate the repair of the tissues around them while pain improves (Nakagomi et al. 2006; Caplan and Correa, 2011).
Just 11 months after stem cell treatments, 90% of patients report a minimum of 50% pain relief, with 44% of those patients experiencing up to 100% pain relief (Centeno et al., 2011).
3. Stem Cell Treatments compared to Medical Alternatives
It is common for orthopaedic surgeons and general practitioners to recommend the use of cortisone to reduce both acute and chronic inflammation within knee, hip, elbow and shoulder joints. Cortisone is a non-anabolic steroid which temporarily reduces inflammation and pain locally. Long term or prolonged use of cortisone is not recommended due to the slow degeneration of tissue it causes. Cortisone is therefore only a ‘bandaid’ fix for patients with osteoarthritic joint pain and does not improve the quality of the cartilage or long term joint health.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet rich plasma is derived from a patient’s blood and has been shown to contain biological components which assist stem cells in their repair of cartilage and bone. Each stem cell isolate used for treatment at SkyGen’s international clinic is enriched with PRP and growth factors to assist the repair process and ensure the stem cells are encouraged to grow into cartilage and bone once injected.
Some clinics treat osteoarthritis with PRP only and, although the risks associated with these injections are as low as those of stem cells, the treatments are less likely to benefit patients.
Traditional orthopaedic surgery is a last resort for most patients due to its associated risks and the lifespan of orthopaedic implants. Once a patient has received an orthopaedic implant (i.e. hip replacement, knee replacement) the implant restores most mobility and reduces pain (in most cases) for up to 10-15 years. Once the implant begins to wear out, revision surgery is required to remove the original implant and replace it with a new implant. Although this process is quite routine, the improvements in pain and mobility are significantly lower compared to the first implant and is associated with additional risks.
4. The difference between recently opened clinics in Australia and SkyGen’s large international stem cell clinic
SkyGen’s partnered stem cell clinic is a world leader in stem cell treatments for joints. The clinic’s treatment history includes over 1,750 patients treated for a range of conditions including aplastic anaemia, osteoarthritis and neuronal diseases.
At SkyGen in 2014, over 92% of joints treated with stem cells no longer required orthopaedic surgery following treatment (SkyGen-specific data)
In contrast to treatments provided at recently established Australian clinics with reports of up to 40% of patients receiving either partial or no improvement (especially in stem cell treatments of the hip).
*Please read: Although the information provided on this page may describe a particular patient experience and/or outcome, readers must understand that each patient presents with a unique medical history and may be recommended a different treatment/surgery by their surgeon to that described above. Individual results may vary between surgery centre/hospital, surgeon, surgery type and patient. Although SkyGen agrees to share all updates from patients at their request, SkyGen does not endorse any physical activities attempted by patients following surgery which do not follow the explicit instructions provided by their surgeon. SkyGen encourages all patients to discuss the risks of such activities with medical professionals before attempting these themselves.