Arthritis affects more than 54 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability in the United States. If you suffer from arthritis, you may already know how it keeps you from doing the things you enjoy. While we do everything we can to help you manage your pain here at Advanced Spine Care and Pain Management of New York, there’s hope on the horizon for a better treatment for your arthritis.
Regenerative medicine is making major gains, and recent studies are showing how it may provide relief for those suffering from arthritis.
What is regenerative medicine therapy?
Right now, treatment for arthritis is geared toward alleviating your symptoms, and that’s the way traditional medicine handles most medical conditions. But regenerative medicine has a different aim. It seeks to replace your diseased or damaged tissue with better, healthier versions using various modalities, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells.
The ultimate goal of regenerative medicine therapy is to find a cure for your underlying health condition, including arthritis.
Healing powers of PRP
Platelets are best known for their blood-clotting abilities. But these proteins do more than just stop a wound from bleeding. Platelets also contain proteins and growth factors that reduce inflammation and begin the regeneration of new tissue to start the healing process. PRP is a specialized blood product rich in these healing properties that’s created from a sample of your own blood.
While the benefits of PRP for arthritis are still under investigation, studies are showing promising results. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the effects of PRP injections in knee osteoarthritis.
The participants in the study either received one PRP injection, two PRP injections, or a saline placebo. The participants did not know what they were receiving, but those that received the PRP injections reported less pain and improved function in their knee at the three-month and six-month follow-up.
Researchers in another 2013 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine wanted to see if PRP injections during the early stages of knee osteoarthritis would be beneficial and improve the structural components of the knee. All participants in the study received PRP injections and all reported a decrease in pain and an improvement in mobility after the injections.
When comparing the MRI scans, the researchers found that degeneration in the knee didn’t worsen over the yearlong study. While this may not have been what the researchers were hoping for, it did show that perhaps PRP injections could slow down the progression of arthritis, which can be a major benefit.
Breakthroughs with stem cell therapy
When it comes to regenerative medicine, researchers have only just begun to tap into the healing power of stem cells. These cells act as your body’s repair system and have the ability to morph into whatever type of cell you need for the repairing process, whether it’s to make new blood vessels, nerve endings, or muscle.
Like PRP, stem cell therapy may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the effects of stem cells on reducing pain in osteoarthritic knees.
Each participant received an injection of stem cells in one knee and a saline solution in the other. The stem cells were obtained from a sample of their own bone marrow. Interestingly, the participants reported an improvement in pain in both knees at the end of the study.
Animal studies have shown that stem cells have the ability to regenerate tissue and stop the progression of arthritis. More research is necessary to see if this is also true for people.
With advances in medicine, you can live a happy and full life with arthritis. To learn more about regenerative medicine therapies and how they may help you, call us or schedule an appointment online.