Turmeric, a spice from South Asia derived from the Curcuma longa root, has been used as a medicine for nearly 4000 years. Recent studies have shown that turmeric may help to relieve joint pain caused by arthritis because the active ingredient, curcumin, is now known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to have similar efficacy to diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, with fewer side effects. Similar improvements in pain severity and function were seen with curcumin and diclofenac in a randomized, controlled clinical study of 139 patients with knee osteoarthritis. Nineteen patients in the diclofenac group (and none in the curcumin group) required anti-ulcer medications at 28 day followup .
Turmeric for Joint Pain Relief
Curcumin has also been shown to have a strong antioxidant capacity. In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, patients with mild-to-moderate knee osteoarthritis were given the curcuminoid and were compared to a group that received a placebo for 6 weeks.  Researchers measured the levels of enzymes known to influence inflammation (e.g. superoxide dismutase (SOD) and malondialdehyde (MDA)). The treatment group showed significant changes in these enzymes suggesting that short-term supplementation with curcumin decreases oxidative stress.
Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of low or high dose bio-optimized Curcuma longa in 150 patients with knee osteoarthritis measured serum biomarkers of cartilage degradation (sColl2-1).  The high dose extract showed a transient but non-significant decrease in the cartilage degradation biomarkers. Moreover, pain improvement in the low- and high-dose extracts was better than in the placebo group after 90 days of treatment.
The effects of topical curcumin 5% ointment on osteoarthritis knee pain in patients older than 70 years was studied in a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Subjects applied either the ointment or a placebo (Vaseline) twice a day for 6 weeks. The pain intensity was significantly lower in the group receiving the curcumin ointment than in the placebo group suggesting that this treatment may be considered for older adults with knee osteoarthritis.
 Shep D, Khanwelkar C, Gade P, Karad S. Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study. Trial 2019; 20:214.
 Panahi Y, Alishiri GH, Parvin S, Sahebkar A. Mitigation of systemic oxidative stress by curcuminoids in osteoarthritis: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Dietary Suppl. 2016;13(2):209–20.
 Henrotin Y, Malaise M, Wittoek R, Vlam K, et al. Bio-optimized Curcuma longa extract is efficient on knee osteoarthritis pain: a double-blind multi center randomized placebo controlled three-arm study. Arthritis Research and Therapy 2019; 21, 179.
 Jamali N, Adib-Hajbaghery M, Soleimani A. The effect of curcumin ointment on knee pain in older adults with osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo trial. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 2020, 20:305.
Patients who suffer with pain, stiffness or swelling caused by knee osteoarthritis are often concerned that they may ultimately need joint replacement surgery. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) has reported that more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States.
Knee replacement is a major surgery and requires prolonged rehabilitation. The good news for patients with knee osteoarthritis is that advances in regenerative medicine are offering hope for an improved quality of life without the risks associated with surgery. Recent studies show that 98% percent of patients would like to learn more about these innovative treatment options. However fewer than 50% of surgeons ever discussed these non-surgical alternatives with their patients.
By using the unique healing qualities of your own cells, regenerative treatments can stimulate healing, reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Some of these therapies may even prevent the progression of knee arthritis.
San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group offers a number of regenerative medicine options for patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Regenerative Options for Knee Osteoarthritis
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy selectively concentrates platelets, plasma and other substances found in the blood to create a customized healing treatment that specifically targets knee joint arthritis.
- Plasma Rich Growth Factor (ENDORET PRGF®) creates a more rapid and natural healing response by using proteins in your blood to facilitate a balanced release of growth factors essential for healing.
- Autologous Fat Tissue Products (Lipogems®) enables regenerative cells (such as stem cells) within your own fat tissue to work together and repair, reconstruct and replace damaged or injured tissues.
- Bone Marrow Aspiration Concentrate (BMAC) utilizes regenerative cells that are contained within your own bone marrow. The marrow contains a rich reservoir of “pluripotent” stem cells to stimulate your body’s ability to improve circulation, decrease inflammation and regenerate tissues.
- Master Protease Inhibitor (A2M) uses a natural substance found in your blood (Alpha 2 Macroglobulin) to stop the progression of joint degeneration and improve pain and inflammation in arthritic joints.
These minimally-invasive treatments are performed using advanced image guidance such as ultrasound or fluoroscopy (digital x-ray). They are performed on an out-patient basis and do not require anesthesia. Unlike surgery, they do not demand a lengthy recovery time or extensive physical therapy following treatment.
Patients who suffer with knee pain will benefit from a consult with a practitioner who is experienced in diagnosing and treating orthopedic conditions so they can review all their options before considering unnecessary joint replacement surgery.
Drs. Christopher J. Rogers and Mary A. Ambach have extensive experience in the treatment of orthopedic conditions and sports injuries. They are recognized experts and leaders in the field of regenerative medicine and were the first providers in the San Diego area to offer some of these advanced medical treatments.