Regenerative medicine seeks to replace tissue or organs damaged by age, disease, trauma, or congenital issues, vs. the current clinical strategy focusing primarily on treating the symptoms. The tools to realize these outcomes are tissue engineering, cellular therapies, medical devices, and artificial organs.
Combining these approaches can enhance our body’s natural healing and replace damaged organs. Regenerative medicine is a field that brings together experts in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, genetics, medicine, robotics, and other areas to find solutions to some of the most challenging medical problems humankind faces.
Understanding Knee Arthritis
Knee arthritis is the inflammation and deterioration of the cartilage in the knee joint, which acts as a cushion and allows for smooth knee movement. Knee cartilage coats the end of the thighbone (femur), the top of the shinbone (tibia), and the backside of the kneecap (patella).
When the cartilage between bones disappears, bone spurs may form, and bones rub together in advanced arthritis.
Over time, damage to the joint cartilage may develop or worsen knee deformities, including knock knees and bowlegs.
Causes of Knee Arthritis
Arthritis, specifically of the knee, may be caused by specific genes, some of which have been identified by experts. However, there are likely other genes that still need to be discovered. It is possible to have a gene linked to arthritis without being aware of it, and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis.
Some risk factors increase the likelihood of knee arthritis, although the cause is unknown. Risk factors of osteoarthritis, specifically, include:
- Bone anomalies
Symptoms of Knee Arthritis
- Joint stiffness
- Difficulty walking
- Skin redness
- Knee buckling
- Warm skin
- Your knee locks or sticks when it’s trying to move
Regenerative Medicine for Knee Arthritis
Regenerative medicine offers promising approaches for treating knee arthritis. It involves using the body’s natural healing processes or introducing external biological materials to repair or replace damaged tissue. Here are some regenerative medicine techniques that have shown potential for knee arthritis:
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
PRP involves extracting a sample of the patient’s blood, processing it to concentrate platelets, growth factors, and other healing components, and injecting it into the affected area.
In knee arthritis, PRP injections aim to reduce inflammation, promote tissue repair, and potentially slow down the progression of the disease.
- Stem Cell Therapy
This involves using stem cells, which have the potential to differentiate into various cell types, including those found in joint tissues.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are commonly used for knee arthritis. They can be harvested from various sources like bone marrow, adipose tissue (fat), or umbilical cord tissue.
Once extracted, these stem cells are injected into the knee joint to stimulate tissue repair and regeneration.
This technique involves injecting a solution (usually dextrose) into the affected ligaments or tendons around the knee. The key triggers a localized inflammation, which prompts the body’s natural healing response.
This involves injecting a gel-like substance, often hyaluronic acid, into the joint space to provide lubrication and cushioning. While not strictly regenerative, it can help alleviate pain and improve mobility in some cases.
It’s important to note that while regenerative medicine holds great promise, it’s still a rapidly evolving field. Not all treatments are equally effective for every individual, and outcomes can vary. Additionally, some techniques’ long-term effects and safety are still being researched.
How is arthritis of the knee diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may order X-rays of your knees to determine if you have arthritis. The X-rays should reveal:
- The type of arthritis.
- Any changes in your bones.
- Bone spurs.
- How narrow the space is between the bones. The less cartilage, the more limited the space. The thinner the area, the greater the pain.
Sometimes, healthcare providers may order an MRI or CT scan.
Advantages of Regenerative medicine for knee arthritis
Regenerative medicine for knee arthritis offers several advantages over traditional approaches. Here are four detailed points highlighting the benefits:
- Tissue Regeneration and Repair
One of the critical advantages of regenerative medicine for knee arthritis is its ability to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. Techniques like Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy introduce concentrated growth factors or stem cells into the affected area.
- Reduced Invasiveness and Risks
Regenerative treatments are minimally invasive compared to traditional surgical interventions. Procedures like PRP injections or stem cell therapy are typically performed outpatient and involve less trauma to surrounding tissues. This means a lower risk of complications, shorter recovery times, and reduced post-operative pain.
- Long-Term Benefits and Delayed Progression
Regenerative medicine aims to provide long-lasting relief by targeting the root cause of knee arthritis. By stimulating tissue repair and regeneration, these treatments can slow down or even halt the progression of the disease.
Regenerative medicine for knee arthritis is a beacon of hope. Its remarkable ability to stimulate natural healing processes and reduce invasiveness and associated risks sets it apart from conventional approaches.
With these advancements, the future holds immense potential for improved quality of life for individuals grappling with this debilitating condition.