Igor, a 13-year old tiger at Szeged Zoo in South Hungary recently received joint therapy using stem cells. For years Igor suffered from debilitating joint pain. Veterinarians at the zoo hope the procedure will help reduce Igor’s pain and improve mobility just like it has done to countless people.
While Igor is the first tiger in the world to receive stem cells injected into a joint, countless humans have already opted for treatment in their knees, hips, and more. Clinical research suggests that stem cells may be a promising solution for patients suffering from joint pain.
According to Science Mag, the rates of knee arthritis in Americans has doubled since the 1940s, leaving a surprising number of people with reduced mobility and pain. Researchers are unsure of the exact reason why osteoarthritis rates are increasing, though some point to the statistical fact that Americans are simply living longer lives than our ancestors. Another potential cause is obesity, due excessive weight being placed on the knee joint.
While obesity and longer life are the two potential causes under the spotlight, there are likely more reasons.
Poor Diet and Lifestyle Choices
It’s fairly well established that your dietary choices have a direct impact on your health and wellness. Consuming excessive sugar and oxidized oils high in omega-6 may result in body-wide inflammation – a marker for diseases like osteoarthritis. And while your knee joint is able to handle significant impact, constant wear may lead to deterioration.
Hormones and Environmental Pollutants
Hormone imbalances are also a potential cause. For example, women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men due to hormones. Hormonal changes usually occur during menopause, which is why many women develop osteoarthritis in their later years. However, hormone changes can occur at any stage of life due to a variety of reasons, including environmental pollutants. Some researchers suggest that we’re exposed to at least 700,000 different chemicals on a daily basis, many of which are able to affect hormones. And in some cases, the adverse effects of certain toxins aren’t well known.
How to Keep Your Joints Strong and Healthy
When it comes to joint health, the best medicine is prevention. By taking care of your joints throughout your life, you can help avoid problems later in your life. Always choose low-impact exercises and try to avoid placing too much of a burden on your joints during periods of physical activity. And while you should minimize the impact physical activity has on your joints, you shouldn’t avoid working out altogether. Exercise is crucial when it comes to great joint health. In fact, exercise can help you strengthen the muscles around your joints which helps support them and minimize overall wear.
In addition to exercise, a healthy diet can help provide your body with the building blocks and nutrition needed to maintain strong joints. Aim to consume real, whole foods just the way nature intended and avoid processed snacks and minimize your sugar intake.
What If You Already Have Joint Problems?
If you’re suffering from joint-related issues, it’s often best to take a multi-pronged approach in treatment. Remember – joint deterioration often gets worse if left untreated. That’s why it’s so important to take action now instead of waiting.
In general, most medical practitioners will provide patients with pain medication. In severe cases, a doctor may suggest joint replacement surgery. Unfortunately, neither of these options do much to correct the reason for joint deterioration.
If you’re currently suffering from joint deterioration, make sure you’re eating healthy foods and staying active with low-impact activities. Stretching and exercise will help strengthen the muscles around your joint which will ultimately minimize the wear and reduce your overall joint deterioration.
In addition to food and exercise, certain supplements have shown to be beneficial when it comes to joint-related problems including MSM, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamin C, fish oil, type 2 undenatured collagen, and turmeric.
Topical lotions may also help provide quick pain relief. These lotions usually include some form of menthol or capsaicin extract that helps reduce pain on the spot.
Some patients have also reported significant relief using hot and cold therapy. This involves placing the joint under cold water or using an ice pack before switching to a heat source like hot water or a heating pad. Rotation of hot and cold temperatures directly on the joint helps increase circulation which may promote healing.
Stem Cell Injections for Knees and Joints
One type of new therapy gaining traction across the world is stem cell treatment. In this procedure, patients receive an injection of live stem cells directly into their injured joint. The stem cells are usually drawn from the patients own supply and then concentrated. In some cases, they’re mixed with a solution of platelet-rich-plasma, which contains numerous healing growth factors. When this mixture is injected into the injured joint, the stem cells are capable of helping your body grow healthy new tissue. Current research suggests that stem cells may be highly effective when it comes to restoring joint function.
Regardless of the type or severity of joint problems, it’s important to understand that there are many treatment options available, many of which are backed by real clinical studies and used by countless people around the world.