Pain and stiffness due to arthritis has long been considered something that normally comes with age. But new research indicates that the disease has affected younger people too at an increasing rate. The Arthritis Foundation reported that among those aged 18 to 64, nearly one in three have doctor-diagnosed arthritis and/or report joint symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of arthritis in both men and women.[i]
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bones in the joints begins to break down. This is often a result of life-long wear and tear, but overuse from repetitive motions and activities may lead to earlier development of this painful condition.
Are You at Risk for Developing Osteoarthritis?
The odds of developing osteoarthritis increase with age and repetitive use, but there are several other factors that can increase a person’s risk for joint degeneration including:
- Genetics: Some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men for ill-defined reasons.
- Obesity: Extra pounds put stress on weight-bearing joints, such as your hips and knees.
- Previous Injury: Joints injured by an accident or surgery, are more prone to developing osteoarthritis.
- Other medical conditions: Systemic diseases such as diabetes and hemochromatosis (a condition that causes the body to retain too much iron) are at higher risk too.
Addressing the Pain Without Surgery
The field of regenerative medicine has made great strides in the development of non-surgical treatments for patients suffering with painful joints due to osteoarthritis. These treatments use a patient’s own cells and tissues to stimulate the body’s ability to repair damaged joints and encourage the growth of new tissue, such as cartilage, bone and tendon.
These minimally-invasive treatments are performed using advanced image guidance to deliver cellular therapy to the affected areas with high precision. They are performed in the medical clinic allowing patients to return home within an hour or two of their treatment.
Such innovative therapies include:
- Prolotherapy which stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms to produce new tissue by employing a sugar based solution called dextrose.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy that selectively concentrates platelets and growth factors in the blood to create a customized healing treatment.
- Bone Marrow Aspiration Concentrate (BMAC) which uses stem cells, platelets and other substances in the patient’s bone marrow that improve circulation, decrease excessive inflammation and regenerate healthy tissue.
- Lipogems that enables cells within the adipose (fat) tissue to work together as a functional unit and repairs, reconstructs and replaces damaged tissues.
- Master Protease Inhibitor (Alpha 2 Macroglobulin or A2M) which uses a substance found in a patient’s own blood to stop the progression of joint degeneration and decrease inflammation.
Which Treatment is Right for Me?
Arthritis sufferers who are considering regenerative treatments should consult with a qualified physician who has the training and skills to perform these procedures safely and effectively. These physicians are board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), sports medicine or orthopedics and have advanced training in regenerative medicine. They can help you determine which treatment is most appropriate based on your goals and specific medical condition.
Another important factor to consider is the source of the regenerative products. Practices that use autologous cells and tissue from a patient’s own body are permitted by the FDA when used in accordance with their guidelines. Clinics that use donor birth tissue products, such as umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid or exosomes put their patients at risk for infection or immune reactions because these materials are foreign to a patient’s own body. The FDA does not permit the use of such products because they have not been proven to be safe or effective.
Those who once considered joint replacement surgery as their only option to manage the pain of osteoarthritis should carefully review these new regenerative treatment options. They can offer years of pain relief that can delay or even avoid surgery.
Drs. Christopher J. Rogers and Mary A. Ambach are recognized experts and leaders in the field of regenerative medicine. They have published in the scientific literature and have trained hundreds of physicians at medical conferences around the world. Because of their extensive knowledge of treating orthopedic conditions with regenerative procedures, San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group is one of only six clinics in the United States selected to participate in an FDA-approved clinical trial to treat knee osteoarthritis with stem cells.