Arthritis is generally considered an old people’s disease, inevitable as we age. However, arthritis is also related to stress and wear and tear on the skeletal system, which can occur at any age. Genetics, labor-intensive jobs, high impact sports, previous injuries, and certain lifestyle habits such as smoking are all contributory factors.
There are different forms of arthritis, brought on in different ways. While they can all be painful and uncomfortable, it is good to understand the different conditions to best know how to treat them.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and the most common form of arthritis. Joint cartilage degrades, exposing bone surfaces to damage that often results in pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling. Abnormalities may also develop in the bone or soft tissue, based upon the added friction and inflammation.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy joints. Antibodies present in the blood target the body tissue, resulting in inflammation, pain, swelling, stiffness, damage, and loss of joint function. Multiple organs in the body can also be affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Nowadays, aside from traditional medication treatments for arthritis, advanced research and treatments such as Stem Cell Therapy are giving arthritis sufferers new hope. Evidence continues to show that the usage of Stem Cell Therapy has better and faster outcomes. It can also help regulate the immune system.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is at the core of a new medical technology called regenerative medicine. Today it is being utilized as a cutting-edge treatment for complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are used for musculoskeletal treatment. They can evolve into bone, cartilage, or fat cells. Stem cells are then injected into the damaged area to stimulate healing. New cells are actually being injected into the area to heal, repair, or replace damaged ones.
Some specialists combine regenerative therapies to achieve optimal outcomes. Stem cell therapy can also be used in conjunction with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to relieve neck arthritic pain.
The genius science behind stem cell therapy is simple — to utilize your own tissues to naturally stimulate healing, without surgery or the risk of side effects.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the chameleon cells of the body. They are undifferentiated (non-specific) cells, which can be transferred to diseased areas where they effectively become new bone, cartilage, or fat cells. This gives them the title of “building block” cells for the body.
Stem cells can transform into cells of the brain, heart, muscle, tissue, cartilage, and other organs. They can uniquely renew themselves and evolve into multiple generations of new cells, even replacing damaged cells in different organs. These cells are taken directly from your body and are injected into the affected organ to stimulate a healing response.
Stem cells can be categorized as embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are derived from a human fetus; there are many ethical concerns with embryonic stem cells, and these are not widely used as of yet.
Adult stem cells are derived from adults, sometimes from their very own tissue (this is called autologous). they are divided into different categories. The types of adult stem cells used to treat musculoskeletal issues are known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These are multipotent cells that can differentiate only into bone cells, cartilage cells, or fat cells.
MSCs manufacture anti-inflammatory agents to reduce inflammation of damaged cells and tissues. They do not suppress the patient’s immune system. They also generate T-regulatory cells, immune cells that protect the body from immunological self-attack.
How are MSCs Obtained
Stem cells are found at multiple storage sites in the human body. Extracting them from the hip bone (iliac bone) is easiest. The procedure takes minutes and causes minimal discomfort. The stem cells are obtained and re-injected at the site within minutes.
This procedure can be done in the doctor’s office. The patient lies face down on the examination table. The skin and cortex of the hip bone are numbed with a local anesthetic. With X-ray (fluoroscopic) guidance, a special needle is passed through the bone of the cortex of the hip bone into the bone marrow. The liquid marrow – containing the stem cells – is withdrawn into a syringe.
The stem cells are taken to the lab and placed in a specialized machine called a centrifuge. The bone marrow solution is spun at a fast speed to separate the stem cells. The concentrated stem cells are transferred to a new syringe.
The damaged area is pinpointed via ultrasound or fluoroscopy. It is sterilized and the surrounding skin is numbed. Using imaging the needle is guided to the site of injury, and the stem cell solution is injected. For neck and shoulder pain, the procedure should be painless and quick, getting you on the path towards pain-free mobility.
In most cases, patients respond well after just one treatment; others may require two to three injections within a span of one year. Some patients feel the difference very soon after the treatment, although it normally takes two to three months after completion of treatment protocols. If you consider the science behind the treatment, you have to give the stem cells time to regenerate healthy tissue in areas of damage or disease.
Call National Stem Centers at our New York office at (646) 448-0427, or (516) 403-1457 for Long Island, to find out if you are a good candidate for stem cell therapy for your neck arthritis, and to schedule your free consultation.