A small study has found that knee injections of stem cells can be an effective treatment for painful knee arthritis. The treatment involves extracting stem cells from the patient’s own body fat and injecting into the knee. These stem cells are known to be able to perform a multitude of regenerative functions.
Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine not involved in the study, commented, “While the goal of this small study was to evaluate the safety of using a patient’s own stem cells to treat osteoarthritis of the knee, it also showed that one group of patients experienced improvements in pain and function. In fact, most of the patients who had previously scheduled total knee replacement surgery decided to cancel the surgery. These results are encouraging, and it will be interesting to see if these improvements are seen in larger groups of study participants.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a painful condition that commonly affects the knees. It is caused through wear and tear and the breakdown of cartilage over time. The more cartilage is broken down, the more pain a patient may experience. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse damage caused by osteoarthritis, and there aren’t any methods that can slow down its progression either. Therefore, the main goal of many osteoarthritis treatments is reducing pain and other symptoms.
The researchers looked at 18 French and German participants aged 50 to 75, all with osteoarthritis.
The participants first underwent liposuction to extract fat samples with specific types of stem cells. One-third of the patients received a single dose injection of their own stem cells into their knee, one-third received a medium dose with four times the amount of stem cells, and the remaining received a high dose with nearly five times more stem cells than the medium group. The participants were followed for six months. All participants showed improvements in pain, function, and mobility.
Those in the low-dose group were the only ones found to show statistically significant improvement in knee pain and function.
Only one participant experienced chest pains as a side effect, while the remainder experienced little to no mild side effects.
The researchers are excited about their findings, which they see as very promising of a possible new treatment for painful osteoarthritis in the knees.
Larger studies are now underway to replicate the results.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article: Tai chi benefits knee osteoarthritis.