Stem cell therapy is the use of stem cells to prevent or treat a condition, and it can be applied to diseases of the joint and spine. The stem cells can come from your own bone marrow or the bone marrow of a compatible donor. Some stem cell therapies are derived from umbilical cord blood that is collected after the birth of a baby. Some families choose to donate the cord blood to a tissue bank for use in treatments and therapies in patients who need the cells.
Stem cells are omnipotent and can turn into any specific cell type that your body needs. The therapy has been used for more than 30 years, and research continues in this field. For the joints and spine, stem cell therapy may be used to repair or grow new cartilage, bone tissue, or blood cells.
Joint and spine disorders involving the cartilage, menisci, and bones can all be treated with stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy provides the greatest benefit to degenerative diseases of the joints and spine, such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and ankylosing spondylolysis. The stem cells can be implanted into the cartilage that remains in your joint. The cells will then recognize the nearby cartilage cells and start turning into new cartilage cells. They will integrate with the existing cartilage over a period of a few weeks to a few months, reversing the damage and providing you with the right amount of cartilage in the joint. The same process can happen if one of the discs or vertebra in your spine have degenerated.
Why Use Stem Cells?
The cells used in stem cell therapy are free of disease and genetic defects. If your own stem cells are used to treat your spine and joint problems, you may be able to enjoy a full recovery from painful conditions such as a loss of cartilage in the joint. Since it is your own cells being used, you will not have to take any medications to suppress your immune system.
Many people with spine and joint problems do not respond to other therapies or cannot take the medications that are often used to treat those conditions. Stem cell therapy provides you with the chance to enjoy a full range of movement, flexibility, and improved strength of your bones without having to take a medication every day. In some cases, only one round of stem cell therapy is needed in order for your body to start growing new cartilage or bone tissue.
Candidates for Stem Cell Therapy
You could be a candidate for joint and spine stem cell therapy if medications and other procedures have not provided you with relief from the pain in the affected area. If your disease is caused by a loss of cartilage, you may also qualify for stem cell therapy in the spine or joint. If your condition is caused by a genetic defect, stem cell therapy may correct the problem so that your body can grow new cartilage or bone tissue that is free of defects.
You may also qualify for this therapy if you do not want to undergo a surgery that would involve the placement of surgical screws and posts or artificial joints.
What to Expect After Stem Cell Therapy
After you receive a stem cell therapy procedure, you will be closely followed by your doctor. The surgical site may be monitored once or twice per week until it is fully healed. You may have several imaging studies performed in order to see how well the stem cells are turning into new cartilage. You may also have regular lab tests to check on your blood calcium levels. Enough calcium is needed so that the stem cells can turn into cartilage and bone.
Over the course of a few months, you can expect to have less pain in your spine or joints and a restoration of the level of cartilage.