Injuries to the cartilage of the knee are among the most common injuries reported in the United States, especially in athletes. Even if you aren’t an athlete, a sudden movement that twists your leg in an odd way can all too easily damage the cartilage in your knee, leading to swelling, pain, and in severe cases, loss of movement.
Despite the prevalence of this type of knee injury, treatment options have been limited. In cases where cartilage is severely torn or where cartilage has been lost, it may be impossible for the cartilage to ever completely heal. (Minor tears can generally heal on their own). Athletes with knee injuries may suffer from long-term problems that can affect their ability to play their sport, and even non-athletes can end up with chronic pain or limitations to their mobility.
There’s hope on the horizon. According to a recent article in Outpatient Surgery, patients may soon be able to access new options in regenerative therapies that repair the torn cartilage of the knee through the implantation of stem cells. This could help decrease pain from damaged or lost cartilage, slow the progress of arthritis, and postpone—or even prevent—the need for knee replacement surgery. Particularly for patients who thought they had run out of options in finding treatment, this is an exciting development.
Regenerative medicine is one of the most exciting areas in the healthcare field, with considerable research underway. Though regenerative therapies have become increasingly popular, many people remain unaware of these options because they are not yet widely available. The most notable application has been in sports medicine, where regenerative treatments like stem cell therapy and PRP have been used by a number of notable athletes like former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
How does it work? Stem cells taken from your own body can be directly implanted into the damaged tissue, encouraging healing, repair, and regrowth. Our bodies are always capable of healing, but some parts of the body regenerate more easily than others. For example, skin generally does not have trouble healing, while cartilage is much more difficult for your body to repair and replace. This is a major reason why the use of stem cell therapies for this tissue type could represent a significant breakthrough.
At the Spine Institute Northwest, we have been using stem cell therapies and platelet-rich plasma treatments in conjunction with minimally invasive procedures to encourage healing in patients with joint problems, degenerative discs, and more. Our new Sports Medicine Clinic is focused on treating patients with injuries like a torn meniscus or chronic issues like knee pain, helping them get back their lives and get back on the field. To learn more, call our Sports Medicine Clinic at 253-313-1801.