Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis of the knee, there are many treatment options available that may be able to relieve pain and restore function. One of these options is a procedure called viscosupplementation, where a thick fluid called hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in the synovial fluid and acts as a lubricant to enable bones to move smoothly over each other and as a shock absorber for joint loads. These treatments tend to be more successful for mild to moderate cases of osteoarthritis and are typically repeated every 6 to 12 months as the knee’s response to the hyaluronic acid diminishes over time. Viscosupplementation can prolong the quality of life for patients with osteoarthritis, but it is not a cure for the condition and its efficacy often diminishes over time to the point of needing more invasive procedures such as full joint replacement.
On the other hand, stem cell therapy can accomplish the same pain reduction and increased function goals. Better yet, this non-surgical treatment has the potential to reverse the degeneration process and actually improve the long-term quality of the articulating surfaces within the knee. So in a head-to-head analysis of what treatment to pursue, satisfying the short term and the long-term prognosis with a single procedure is a very attractive option.
The Regenexx-SD (Same Day) Stem Cell procedure utilizes your body’s own stem cells to help improve the tissue health in the joint. Stem cells are harvested from the bone marrow in your hip, concentrated and mixed with helpful growth components from a blood sample, and then injected back into the affected joint. The procedure has had a positive effect in more than 9 out of 10 patients as indicated by a decrease of knee arthritis pain after 6 months.
While these stem cell treatments are relatively new procedures, for those suffering from an arthritic knee it is well worth exploring. Viscosupplementation treatment has shown to be effective, and when repeated every 6 to 12 months can be a way to extend the functional life of the knee joint. But stem cell therapy and its potential to create a more lasting solution to osteoarthritis may prove to be more effective in the long run.