What are stem cells?
Many clinicians are interested in using stem cells to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis. But what are stem cells?Scientists define stem cells as cells that can do both of these things: Self renew. Stem cells can divide and duplicate themselves, both in the body and in a lab. A small amount of stem cells can be harvested from human tissue and then grown in a lab.
Differentiate. Stem cells can develop into many different types of cells. For example, it is possible for a stem cell to develop into a blood cell, bone cell, or cartilage cell. It is believed and well respected that stem cells are essential to the body’s ability to repair damaged cells, such as healing after an injury. The most common type of stem cells used in therapy are mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells have the potential to develop into musculoskeletal cells, such as fat, bone, or cartilage cells. Many stem cell scientists believe mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to repair and replace cartilage as well as other tissue damaged by arthritis. These stem cells are usually collected from the patient’s fat tissue, blood, or bone marrow.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy for Arthritis
Platelet-rich plasma therapy or PRP therapy takes advantage of the blood's natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and more... A growing number of people are turning to PRP injections to treat an expanding list of orthopedic conditions, including osteoarthritis. It is most commonly used for knee osteoarthritis, but may be used on other joints as well.
When treating osteoarthritis with platelet-rich plasma, a doctor injects PRP directly into the affected joint, with the goal to: Reduce pain Improve joint function Possibly slow, halt, or even repair damage to cartilage
Platelet-rich plasma is derived from a sample of the patient's own blood. The therapeutic injections contain plasma with a higher concentration of platelets than is found in normal blood. What are platelets? Like red and white blood cells, platelets are a normal component of blood. Platelets secrete substances called growth factors and other proteins that regulate cell division, stimulate tissue regeneration, and promote healing.
Doctors who use PRP therapy to treat osteoarthritis on the bases that platelet-rich plasma:
- Inhibits inflammation and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis - Stimulates the formation of new cartilage - Increases the production of natural lubricating fluid in the joint, thereby easing painful joint friction - Contains proteins that alter a patient's pain receptors and reduce pain sensation