If you’re suffering with daily aches and pain in your knees, shoulder, or other joints, you may be wondering about stem cell therapy for joint pain. This exciting medical technology is relatively new, but researchers continue to find promising evidence that it could vastly improve the lives of people coping with chronic joint pain. Here’s what you should know about this treatment approach.

What is stem cell therapy for joint pain?

Stem cells play an important part in the regenerative processes within our bodies. These cells are able to multiply and develop into any tissue in your body. In other words, they can take many forms, including cartilage, bone, fat, and other connective tissues.

When injected into damaged areas of the body, such as knees, ankles, or shoulders, stem cells have the potential to regenerate the entire area. That’s because they have anti-inflammatory properties and can also decrease cell death.

For patients who have tried everything from complementary treatments to interventional methods of pain management, stem cell therapy represents a new option. This is another way patients can possibly find pain relief without resorting to surgery. At Houston Spine & Joint Pain Consultants, we always start with the least invasive methods of pain management. For some, that may be stem cell therapy.

How does stem cell therapy for joint pain work?

First, your specialist will harvest the stem cells from your own body for use. These are present in your own fat tissue and bone marrow. Bone marrow stem cells are the most common choice for treating knee pain with stem cell therapy. It’s important to note that in order to harvest bone marrow stem cells, a surgical procedure under general anesthesia is necessary. Gathering stem cells from fat tissue in other areas of the body is easier to do and less invasive.

In some cases, harvesting from your own body may not be possible.

That’s when some patients turn to donor stem cells. This method is rarely used because there is a chance of rejection, even if the donor is a family member. Concerns around using cells harvested from embryonic tissue have been a serious topic among patients and physicians as this medical breakthrough technique has emerged. However, stem cell therapy today almost always relies on stem cells from your own body. You will know exactly where your stem cells come from.

Once the stem cells have been extracted, your doctor will inject them directly into the joint where you are experiencing pain. This procedure is both quick and simple. The only side effects typically reported are soreness and swelling at the injection site. After the procedure, these stem cells may begin to reduce inflammation and promote healing. They will continue to divide and duplicate themselves in order to develop into other types of cells.

What conditions are best suited for stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy won’t be the correct treatment approach for every case. However, there are several conditions that may greatly benefit from this cutting-edge technique.

1. Arthritis

Experts are closely studying stem cell therapy for chronic pain associated with arthritis, especially in the knees, back, hips, and elbows.

A recent Mayo Clinic study on the use of stem cells to treat arthritis in the knee had positive findings. In fact, patients involved in the study experienced pain relief in both knees, although only one knee was treated with stem cells.

While no procedure or medication can delay or reverse the progressive joint destruction arthritis causes, stem cell therapy can provide relief. Doctors agree that the earlier you can treat joint pain, the better chance stem cell therapy has of working. It can be less painful, less swollen, and improve your overall range of motion.

2. Overuse conditions and injuries

Joint overuse and injury can cause conditions that lead to pain and inflammation. This may be due to one-time trauma or consistent overuse. Fortunately, stem cell therapy can help in these instances as well.

For example, knee pain can result from engaging in high-impact sports or exercise regimens. Stem cell injections can help relieve pain associated with cartilage tears, meniscus injury, and other forms of overuse. More importantly, this option may allow you to avoid the risks and costs associated with knee replacement surgery.

How can stem cell therapy help me?

At Houston Spine & Joint Pain Consultants, we understand that each case is unique. Our goal is to develop a pain management treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

First, we will work to diagnose the cause of your pain. A diagnosis is the first and perhaps the most important step. We use your medical records, family history, and symptoms to determine whether you need further testing. In the event that we need a better picture of what you’re experiencing, our team will turn to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-rays.

From there, we’ll develop a pain management plan that includes complementary care, such as physical therapy and chiropractic treatment.

If lifestyle changes and a medication regimen don’t improve your condition, our doctors will suggest interventional procedures. These may include various joint injections or regenerative therapies, like stem cell therapy. We strive to help our patients find the pain relief they need without turning to surgery or highly-invasive procedures as a first-line treatment.

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Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive option for managing your joint pain when other treatments have failed. Joint pain can affect many aspects of your daily life, making average activities incredibly difficult. For some, stem cell therapy represents a chance at a life with less pain so you can get back to the activities you love to do.

If you’re interested in learning more about stem cell therapy, call Houston Spine & Joint Pain Consultants today. Our team specializes in comprehensive and interventional pain management, serving patients in Midtown, Katy, Cypress, Spring, Sugarland, Missouri City, Energy Corridor, Memorial and Houston area.