For many patients suffering with injuries and conditions that are orthopaedic in nature, regenerative medicine utilizing the patient’s own adult stem cells has been the answer they’ve been seeking. For some, it’s the alternative to having surgery. For others, stem cells have been introduced in conjunction with surgery, in an effort to improve the results of the surgery and reduce down time following the procedure.
Board Certified orthopedic surgeon Kevin Darr, who is currently involved in 5 independent review board approved studies utilizing mesenchymal stem cells to treat various musculoskeletal disorders, says of his experiences, “Mesenchymal stem cells can not only improve the outcome of patients who have had a meniscectomy, but also who have a meniscetomy in the presence of osteoarthritis (OA).”
Darr cites the science of regenerative medicine: “Mesenchymal stem cells are multi-potent stromal (connective tissue) cells of mesodermal origin that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including articular cartilage and meniscal tissue.”
What exactly does that mean for those of us who work outside of medicine?
“The reason patients are improving is due to the fact that stem cells decrease the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and are nourishing existing cartilage cells, allowing the cells the potential to repair,” Darr explains. “The stem cells can also differentiate into new cartilage cells.”
Studies like Darr’s have become increasingly popular, as the numbers of adults facing pain and decreased mobility from osteoarthritis continue to climb. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the United States, OA affects 26.9 million adults aged 25 and older.
What’s more, Darr’s research is showing that some OA patients can potentially avoid a surgical procedure with injections of mesenchymal stem cells. Some 93% of patients report some improvement with pain and function and one year after the treatment, patients average 72% improvement in pain and 50% improvement in function.