Knee Replacement Alternatives: Are Stem Cells a Viable Option?
It’s the last thing any patient wants to hear from a doctor: knee replacement surgery.
Unfortunately, knee-related joint problems are all too common across the world. Every day, millions of people wake up with knee pain that negatively impacts their daily activities. The causes can vary from a simple injury to something more serious – like arthritis. Worse yet, patients have limited options for relief. Most physicians will only prescribe pain pills to help you manage the discomfort. And when the pain becomes unbearable, surgery or knee replacement is often the next step.
Knee Replacement Risks
Many patients think that a knee replacement will solve their current joint problems and unfortunately many doctors fail to fully explain these surgeries to patients. As with any major surgery, there are serious risks associated with the operation including strokes, heart attacks, and more. Remember – even the most minor of surgeries can have complications, so it’s always important to exhaust other options before opting for a procedure that could be dangerous.
In addition to surgical risks, there are post-operations side-effects that can occur including infections, blood clots, and permanent nerve damage. Other potential issues include a limited range of motion in the knee or the inability to crouch down. Additionally, some people continue to experience knee pain even after joint replacement surgery.
Success Rate for Knee Surgery
While risky, knee replacements do have a high success rate. On average, 95% of people have a successful surgery and many do report pain relief after the procedure. However, it’s important to note that a replacement knee isn’t permanent. You may need to have the operation performed again, which is why most surgeons are reluctant to operate unless the patient is elderly.
Are There Other Options?
In some situations, patients may be opting for surgery too early. Some studies have shown that activities like physical therapy, exercise, and stretching can help provide some relief. In addition, supplementing join-supporting nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, and MSM may also be beneficial.
Stem Cells for Knees: A New Treatment?
Recent research suggests that stem cells may be an effective option for arthritis of the knee. In one study, patients reported significant relief after just one stem cell injection.
Stem cells are considered a universal cell, or one that can duplicate itself into practically any kind of other cell in your body. For example, when you’re injured, your body uses stem cells to recover. In the case of a cut or scratch, these stem cells become new skin cells and the wound will close.
When these stem cells are injected directly into cartilage or joint tissue, they may have the potential to restore normal joint function and help improve the mobility and flexibility of the patient’s knee.