Your knees are not only the largest joints in your body, they’re also among the most important when it comes to your mobility. When you have damage in your knee, such as a meniscus tear, you want to help the tissue heal as healthy and as strong as possible so you can move freely. Yet, understandably, you’d rather not achieve this objective through surgery.
At Genesis Orthopaedic and Spine, our team excels in the use of regenerative medicine practices that help your body to heal from within to avoid surgical intervention. As an example, we routinely turn to bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) for meniscus tears. Here, we explain how it works.
Meniscus tears aren’t all equal
Each of your knees features two wedge-shaped pieces of fibrocartilage that act as shock absorbers inside your knee. One of the challenges when there’s damage to this tissue is that there are two zones in each meniscus:
- Red zone — the outer one-third of the tissue that enjoys ample vascularization
- White zone — the inner two-thirds of tissue that’s devoid of blood vessels
If you incur a tear in the outer third of your meniscus, the good news is that this area heals far more readily thanks to a steady supply of healing resources delivered by your blood. If, however, your meniscus tear involves the white zone, healing can be far trickier, which is why surgery is often recommended.
Providing resources to your meniscus
Since access to healing resources is the primary challenge when it comes to many meniscus tears, our goal is to supply those resources through regenerative medicine. More specifically, with meniscus tears, we turn to bone marrow aspirate concentrate, which contains an ample supply of stem cells.
When you were nothing more than a fetus, your stem cells went to work to form your body, as these powerful cells have the incredible ability to become many types of cells. For example, these early stem cells became your liver cells, your brain cells, your skin cells, and more.
As an adult, you still have stem cells in your body and they’re mostly found in your bone marrow, which is the spongy tissue inside your bones. These cells are what create your blood supply.
With bone marrow aspirate concentrate, we draw some of your bone marrow, usually from your pelvis as this bone is large and has a good supply of accessible bone marrow. Once we aspirate your bone marrow, we reinject the stem cells into your damaged meniscus, where they go to work to heal and repair the damage, even in the white zone.
To give you an idea about the efficacy of BMAC, one report concluded that, “application of autologous BMAC in addition to a meniscus suture resulted in successful meniscus regeneration of tears in the avascular zone by a one-step procedure.” Please note that this study was done in rabbits and involved a surgery, but the takeaway is that stem cells played a large role in the successful healing.
At our practice, our goal is to eliminate surgery altogether with BMAC and physical therapy so that you can regain full use of your knee again (not to mention alleviate any associated knee pain).
If you’re struggling with a meniscus tear and you want a nonsurgical solution, contact one of our offices in West Orange or Westfield, New Jersey, to learn more about bone marrow aspirate concentrate.