Stem cell therapy for arthritis has been used worldwide to treat arthritis patients. Irreversible joint damage caused by arthritis used to mean surgical joint replacement. Patients who do not want such invasive surgery might elect to receive a stem cell therapy procedure instead.
The body's stem cells are able to change themselves into different cell types. Arthritis patients receiving stem cell treatments have their own cells removed from their bodies and injected into their damaged joints. The cells then turn into cartilage producing chondrocytes. This fresh cartilage repairs the damaged joint. In addition, the stem cells reduce joint inflammation, speed healing, and help prevent future joint damage.
Another possible benefit of stem cell therapy for arthritis is that it is less invasive than typical arthritis-damaged joint treatments. Once a joint such as a knee or hip becomes damaged beyond repair, an artificial joint is surgically implanted in its place. Such surgery can have a long recovery period, and there are risks inherent to such an invasive procedure. Stem cell therapy for arthritis is much less invasive. Most patients who undergo stem cell therapy for arthritis are able to move about within 24 hours of having the procedure done.
Risks are minimal with stem cell therapy for arthritis due to the fact it is the patient's own stem cells being injected into the damaged joint. There is very little risk of rejection or infection from the patient's own cells. The less-invasive procedure also significantly reduces the risk of blood clots that can occur with any major surgical procedure, including joint replacement.
Cost of stem cell therapy is less than the cost of a major joint replacement surgery. For uninsured patients who must pay for treatment, this is a possible benefit. The hospital stay is shorter. In addition, the need for physical and occupational therapy is also eliminated, which reduces the treatment cost.
Correcting problems before they become serious is another possible benefit of stem cell therapy for arthritis. A patient whose joints show lesions but are not yet damaged can opt for stem cell treatment to repair the joint before severe damage occurs. Stem cell therapy can be used on any joint in the body. This innovative procedure can also benefit patients who are considered at too high a risk for joint replacement surgery. Elderly patients and patients with other chronic health problems may benefit from stem cell therapy.