Many patients are now inquiring about the possible use of stem cell treatment to help with their arthritis.
Stem cells are basic human cells that have potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. They are simple or undifferentiated cells.
Stem cells help to create new cells in existing healthy tissues and may help to repair tissues in those structures that are injured or damaged. They are the basis for the specific cell types that makes up each organ in the body.
When stem cells divide they create progenitor cells. Unlike stem cells, progenitor cells can become cells with more specialized functions, such as brain cells, red blood cells or – of particular interest to orthopaedic surgeons—components of specialized tissue such as bone or cartilage.
Orthopaedic surgeons have focused their attention on mesenchymal stem cells. Unlike embryonal stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells are obtained from living adult tissue.
Bone marrow stromal cells are mesenchymal stem cells that, in the proper environment, can differentiate into cells that are part of the musculoskeletal system. They can help to form trabecular bone, tendon, articular cartilage, ligaments and part of the bone marrow.
At this point, stem cell procedures in orthopaedics are still at an experimental stage. Most procedures are performed at research centers as part of controlled clinical trials.
At the present time, there is little scientific evidence to use of support stem cell injections for treat arthritis or regenerate cartilage. We believe that ongoing and future research does hold promise for this type of treatment.
We encourage patients to ask questions about the “latest and greatest” claims that they may have heard about.
Dr. Kaper will be happy to share the most up-to-date research information to help patients make smart and educated decisions about their arthritis care. Please be aware that if you do choose to try this experimental treatment, it is not covered by insurance. Cash pay prices seem to vary – ranging from $2,000-10,000 per injection.