If you are over age 50, have severe osteoarthritis of the knees, and conservative treatments have failed you, the only treatment available for your stiff and painful joints has long been a knee replacement surgery. This entails an approximately 8-12 inch cut in front of the knee, removal of the damaged joint parts, and replacement with the plastic or metal components of an artificial joint which are sealed into place with special cement. Six weeks of intensive rehabilitation and physical therapy see most people walking comfortably, but running and jumping are still not possible. As with all surgeries, there are associated complications such as infection, bleeding, blood clots, and the risks of general anesthesia.
Now a more advanced approach is helping old knees feel brand new. Stem cell therapy can treat the damaged and worn out joint and allow an arthritic person to walk comfortably. The Chiropractic Athletic Center in West Manchester Township, York County, Pennsylvania, has over 20 years of experience dedicated to managing pain. It is one of the only centers in the area offering stem cell therapy as an alternative to knee joint replacement. Dr. Kevin Owens, founder and president, states that other clinics are afraid to offer this treatment since it will draw patients away from lucrative replacement surgeries, costing establishments tens of thousands of dollars.
Patsy White, a Lebanon County, Pennsylvania resident, is experiencing the benefits of the stem cell procedure for herself. Her aging knees had taken away her freedom and had taken a toll on her personality as well. Severely degenerated joints left her shuffling on her feet and she felt uneasy being around people. That was, until she underwent stem cell therapy.
This newer treatment involves injecting stem cells into the arthritic joint at the site of pain and discomfort. The procedure is not associated with any of the risks of surgery, and there is no scarring or need for physical therapy. The injected stem cells help damaged cells in the joint repair and regrow, and also multiply to increase the population of healthy cells.
Although stem cells have been mired in controversy, Dr. Owens states the cells used in this procedure are sourced from the amniotic fluid of consenting donors who undergo cesarean sections. This fluid, which surrounds the baby, is a highly concentrated source of stem cells that can develop into various types of tissues including cartilage, muscle, and bone. Amniotic fluid also contains growth factors, anti-inflammatory components, hyaluronic acid (a prominent component of joint fluid), antimicrobial compounds, and stem cell activators that are able to work in a “foreign” body without invoking an immunologic response. Unlike stem cells sourced from embryos which are considered unethical by many people, amniotic stem cells are derived from a fluid that is discarded after birth.
The procedure is a classic example of modern medicine making a breakthrough with pioneering approaches in regenerative medicine to repair tissue damage rather than simply mask pain. Stem cell therapy offers arthritis sufferers a chance to get brand new knees as an alternative to joint replacement surgery.