Fast improvements seen in sport related injuries after stem cell therapy
Osteoarthritis is a condition affecting millions of people worldwide and is the most common form of degenerative joint disease.
For many people Osteoarthritis in inevitable, it is a result of over the years of playing sport or just going about day to day life the rubbery cartilage that protects our bones wears down, leaving bone rubbing against bone, painfully.
It is commonly found in knees, hips, hands, and spines, while there is no miracle cure; there are pain relievers, physical therapy and surgery.
Although recently there have been huge breakthroughs without surgery, stem cell therapy have been leading the way as a new alternative treatment.
Over five years ago, physicians at Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Centre were one of the only and first health care providers who offered regenerative stem cell therapy as a treatment for osteoarthritis and sport related joint issues. The Centre harnesses the ability of a person’s stem cells to repair joint related issues by harnessing the ability to repair damaged tissue, reduce pain, and promote healing.
In the processes, stem cells are taken from a patient’s bone marrow, and then reintroduced into the joint to start the healing process.
Ken Mautner practices sports medicine at Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Centre, he highlights how stem cell therapy represents a natural next step in regenerative medicine.
“Put them in a test tube, and you can get stem cells to grow into almost whatever you want,” Mautner says. “Here, the goal is reducing pain and improving function, working to essentially turn off the death of your original cartilage cells.”
Those cartilage cells could have been damaged from an old athletic injury, the wear-and-tear of everyday life, or by mechanical issues linked to the way you walk, exacerbated by obesity or simply genetics. The result is the same—pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
Through stem cell therapies, Mautner sees an opportunity to fill a critical treatment gap for OA patients, providing an alternative between pain relievers and total joint replacement surgery.
Mautner and his colleagues are encouraged by what they have seen. Some patients are showing improvements after a month, this has been found after monitoring outcomes for 150-200 patients a year.
Patients that Mautner treat, are aged between 20’s to 80. Mautner see’s improvements in 75%-80% of patients who are in good overall health.
Mautner admits that stem cell developments aren’t for everyone but said: “we’re definitely seeing success with the right people under the right conditions, I’m seeing folks who were once candidates for knee replacement now five years on from stem cell treatment and doing very well.”
Mautner added: “I’ve treated folks who went from being very inactive to doing Ironman triathlons and those who are happy to just be able to take a walk again. The goal is less pain in their day-to-day lives, the ability to get up and move.”
John Bourke, 62, a former college basketball player who punished his joints to the limit, but stem cell therapy has proven to be a game changer.
He suffered with OA for years and tried multiple different types of treatments.
Bourke then started to see Oluseun Olufade, a sports medicine physician at the Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Johns Creek and assistant professor of orthopaedics.
Bourke before looking into stem cell developments had undergone two knee replacements. He had excruciating pain in his hip and was keen to give stem cell therapy a go, but he was warned that stem cell treatment wasn’t a guaranteed fix.
John Bourke,62, electrical engineer, said: “It’s not rebuilding cartilage, it’s using your own cells to affect improvement in your joint, so there’s not the rejection issue.”
Early last year Bourke received stem cell treatment, following the treatment he was able to leave the clinic almost immediately after although was advised to walk as little as possible for the next few days. Within a week or two he started to feel an improvement.
Within the following two months, he completed a course of physical therapy and saw huge improvements.
John Bourke, 62, said: “My hip has improved a ton. I’m doing the best I’ve done in a long time,”
“I own a couple of acres, and I’ve been able to get out and walk on my property and return to the gym, working on getting my weight down again.”
He also added if the treatment was needed again in following years, he’d happy to it again.
Olufade, who ran the stem cell therapy explained, it may sound like a modest victory, but conquering daily pain is a huge achievement.
“The goal from my perspective is to keep people enjoying what they enjoy. High school student, professional athlete, middle-aged person—it’s really just about helping them function the way they want,” he said.
“The goal is to help address pain,”
Stem cell therapy can be an option for a variety of people, if surgery isn’t an option.
Oludafe, said: “Stem cell therapy is an option for athletes, but also for the guy who just wants to live a normal life and play soccer with his grandkids.”
Protect Their Future Health
We believe the best stem cells to use in emerging treatments will be the patient’s own stem cells as this doesn’t require a search for a suitable donor and in turn, eliminates chances of the transplanted cells being rejected.