About 32.5 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis and this number is expected to grow by leaps and bounds as our population ages. Also called a wear-and-tear disease, the prognosis for osteoarthritis (OA) hasn’t been good as the condition has long been considered incurable and, worse, progressive.
Thanks to an emerging understanding of the power of regenerative medicine, there’s new hope when it comes to OA.
The doctors here at Genesis Orthopaedic and Spine pride ourselves on staying at the forefront of musculoskeletal medicine, and we’re excited about the potential that regenerative medicine has shown in helping us treat OA.
In the following, we take a closer look at the amazing healing potential of the regenerative resources that exist in the human body and how they may be able to help you move again without joint pain.
Why OA is considered incurable
Under normal circumstances, your joints contain a slippery substance called cartilage, which covers the surfaces of the bones, enabling smooth gliding movements between these hard tissues. Over time, this cartilage can break down and your unprotected bones begin to rub together, which leads to the pain and inflammation that are at the heart of OA.
As the problem grows worse, pieces of your bone can break off, further exacerbating the discomfort.
The reason why OA has been, historically, considered incurable is that your cartilage is what we call avascular, which means this tissue doesn’t have any blood vessels within it. Without vascularization, your cartilage doesn’t have access to the resources it needs to repair and rebuild itself.
Enter regenerative medicine
When we refer to regenerative medicine, we’re talking about tapping the amazing healing properties that are already contained within the human body.
For example, when you cut yourself, your body jumps into action to contain the damage, and then it gets to work on the healing process.
Through regenerative medicine practices, our goal is to harness and redirect these same resources into your damaged cartilage so it has what it needs to rebuild and repair itself.
Types of regenerative medicine
The two most powerful healing resources in your body are:
1. Stem cells
Most of the cells in your body have one job — your skin cells occupy themselves with your skin and your liver cells stay inside that organ. There is one exception — stem cells. These are what we call undifferentiated cells, and they have the ability to transform into other cells and then multiply as that cell.
The platelets in your blood are cells that perform a critical role in helping your blood to clot so you don’t bleed out. Once platelets form this barrier, their wound healing responsibilities don’t end there.
With the bleeding threat taken care of, your platelets release growth factors, cytokines, and chemokines that work together to control inflammation and to facilitate the healing process. Included in these actions is the call for stem cells in your body to come in and help with repairing the damage.
Regenerative medicine and OA
If you have OA, our goal is to supply your damaged joints with additional resources, which we can do through:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy — a technique in which we isolate and concentrate platelets from your blood and then inject them into your damaged tissues.
- Lipogems adipose/fat therapy — your adipose tissue contains 100-500 times more reparative tissue components than other tissues in your body, which includes stem cells. Not only does the fat therapy help cushion your arthritic joints, it also creates a healing environment that encourages repair and rebuilding.
- Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) — as an adult, you carry many of your stem cells in your bone marrow. With BMAC, we draw these cells out with a needle and create a concentrate that we inject back into your damaged tissues.
To find out which regenerative treatment is right for your OA, contact one of our offices in Westfield or West Orange, New Jersey, to set up an appointment.