By age 60, an estimated 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women have knee arthritis. This means you will have to curtail or avoid the activities you love (skiing, pickleball, chasing the grandchildren). For many, it also means relying on over-the-counter pain medications, toxic steroid injections, dangerous narcotics, knee arthroscopy, or knee replacement surgery. But new advancements in regenerative procedures using your own bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells (not “amniotic”, “birth tissue,” or someone else’s cells) offer hope, healing, and pain relief for arthritis of the knee.
Osteoarthritis (OA) literally means “inflammation of a joint”. The problem is that it is really misnamed, unless we are discussing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which IS an inflammatory condition. The discomfort we feel is usually the result of the degeneration of the structures in the knee.
Common symptoms for knee arthritis include:
- Tenderness and swelling of your knee(s) especially after activity.
- Instability. If untreated, knee arthritis can create weakness and instability in your knee. This can cause your knee to lock or buckle with weight-bearing.
- Reduced range of motion in your knee when doing everyday activities.
If you are diagnosed with knee arthritis, you will likely be recommended a combination of medical interventions and lifestyle modifications:
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Acupuncture, topical creams, and ice packs
- Low-impact exercise/physical therapy
Common medical interventions often start with over-the-counter pain medications: aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can temporarily help pain associated with arthritis but can lead to damage in the heart, kidneys, and GI system over the long term and do not improve long-term pain.
More aggressive treatments include:
- Prescription pain drugs
- Injections, such as corticosteroid injections to temporarily reduce pain
Are steroid Injections Helpful for Knee Arthritis?
Your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections for knee arthritis. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents that temporarily reduce pain and inflammation in an arthritic joint. Unfortunately, corticosteroids are also toxic to cartilage and increase the rate of arthritic progression. In a recent 2020 study from The Bone and Joint Journal, patients with knee arthritis who underwent corticosteroid injections were compared to patients with similar levels of knee arthritis who did not have any steroid injections. The patients who were given steroid injections were more than six times as likely to undergo a knee replacement.
While helpful for knee pain in the short term, corticosteroid injections can actually worsen knee arthritis and pain over the long term.
You may be recommended a knee replacement, which involves amputating the damaged knee joint and installing an artificial knee. It is important to remember that joint replacement is a treatment… not a cure. Most reasonable surgeons recommend joint replacement as the last resort because:
- Knee replacements wear out. Most will need to be replaced, which is a more extensive operation than the initial.
- There have been many “mechanical problems” and manufacturer recalls related to artificial joints.
- The surgery itself can cause damage to your joints and bones and may entail a long recovery process.
- An artificial joint that becomes infected is a very serious complication that can lead to another joint replacement and long term IV antibiotics in the best case or can lead to leg amputation in more serious cases.
- More than one-third of patients who have a knee replacement still have knee pain.
- Range of motion in the knee after the surgery can be reduced significantly.
Thankfully, a growing body of research is revealing new, cutting-edge approaches to knee arthritis, with many men and women finding the relief they need through bone marrow concentrate therapies.
Bone Marrow Concentrate Therapy and Knee Arthritis
The premise is simple, yet the science is groundbreaking. Your bone marrow and blood is withdrawn through a patented same-day protocol.
Your concentrated bone marrow and natural growth factors are then injected by specially trained physicians using precise image-guidance (ultrasound and X-ray) directly into multiple tissue structures in your affected knee (eg. cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, meniscus). This procedure provides more healing growth factors to the injured, degenerated, and inflamed joint than your body would otherwise send to the area. This results in significant improvements in your knee pain and knee function within just a few months.
Unfortunately, the world of stem cell therapy is often referred to by scientists as a “wild wild west.” The efficacy of these procedures for knee arthritis and chronic knee pain means many companies have rushed to market with various health claims and procedures. The problem is that many (if not most) of what you’ll find on the market — such as the use of exosomes or umbilical cord “stem cells” — isn’t backed by real research and in fact, is illegal to use.
When choosing a bone marrow concentrate therapy treatment for knee arthritis, it’s critical that you look for a procedure that’s truly backed by science, and specifically peer-reviewed randomized controlled medical trials and other clinical trials.
The science is clear: The most advanced and effective regenerative therapy for knee arthritis is an image-guided injection of your bone marrow concentrate (BMC) into the joint and sometimes into the bone.
In one study, BMC injections into the knee joint significantly reduced the need for knee replacement surgery. Another study tracked patients for 15 years and found that BMC injections into the bone also significantly reduced the need for knee replacement.
At Regenexx, this is the exact same procedure we employ in our clinics. These advancements in therapy and technology mean our Regenexx approach, overseen by expert physicians who have been doing this for over a decade, may be the best option for avoiding knee replacement.
If you suffer from knee arthritis and want to avoid costly and invasive knee replacement surgery, contact us today to learn how you can use these advancements in therapy to naturally and effectively target your knee health concerns.