Orthopedic conditions can be debilitating, limiting movement and causing pain that makes day-to-day life difficult. There are no satisfactory healing options for many of them, including osteoarthritis, chronic back pain, tendon disorders and bone defects.

Stem cells hold the potential to turn orthopedic healthcare upside down. We’ve already talked about the general therapeutic properties of stem cells in one of our previous posts but this time we’re going to focus specifically on orthopedics.

Orthopedics as a branch of medicine deals with the treatment of bone, joint, and associated muscle disorders and injuries. Quite a few orthopedic conditions lack sufficient therapeutic options, causing trouble to many people.

We all have an aunt or an uncle who suffers from arthritic hip pain, or maybe a sibling who once messed up their shoulder at the gym, or their knee when playing football. We are quite used to accepting such chronic conditions as a fact of life, but with the current pace of medical innovation the situation is changing.

Orthopedic conditions that can be treated with stem cells

Broad evidence highlights mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a promising treatment option for patients living with particular orthopedic conditions. This is because MSCs can develop into bone and cartilage cells, and it is relatively easy to extract MSCs from your own fat tissue.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, commonly known as the ‘wear and tear’ disease, is a fancy name for something experienced by many of us – recurrent hip or knee pain that starts to affect us a little while after an injury, because of excess body weight, or due to our genetic makeup.

Conventional treatment suggestions include weight loss, exercise, pain relief, anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids (or even alternative therapies like acupuncture and food supplements, like taking additional glucosamine). Despite the options available, many of us continue to endure pain and other complications related to our joints due to the lack of truly effective treatment that can reverse damage and improve function.

The good news is that clinics around the globe report encouraging research results treating knee and hip osteoarthritis with MSCs. Patients have shown significant joint improvement in long-term follow-ups, even after several years. For instance, clinical studies have identified decreased knee pain, new cartilage formation, repair of cartilage microfractures, and better joint function.

Back pain caused by degenerative disc diseases

It is one thing to have back pain due to too much sitting, but it is a whole different situation when the pain is caused by degenerative disc disease. Chronic cases have a huge impact on the life quality of patients and it is quite typical that surgeries, a conventional solution for pain alleviation, may lead to further issues such as rapid degeneration of adjacent spine segments.

MSC-mediated disc regeneration may provide sustained improvement rather than just pain relief. Compared to back surgery, MSC-based intervention is also simpler and less invasive but still provides significant pain relief and disc quality improvement.

Tendon diseases

You never hear much about tendons. Usually, we just want to have big muscles and strong bones, but without these dynamic cords made of connective tissue that tie our muscles and bones together there’s little use of paying for that sports club membership. Diseases of tendons tend to remind us of their value, though.

A sprained ankle or shoulder cause us to take a step back, rest and pop some pain medications. However, apart from anti-inflammatory drugs, and physiotherapy, there’s not much else we can do than simply wait for injured tendons to heal. Fat-derived MSC injections, on the other hand, have achieved faster treatment results, indicating that this innovative treatment approach could be a shortcut treatment for people who would like to return to their daily activities or sports faster and feeling better.

Bone defects

Bone defects occur after a severe trauma, tumor removal, or local tissue infections. To put it simply, this is when some of the bone that should be there is missing. Conventionally, such defects are padded with artificial fillers or bone implants. However, it would certainly be preferable if the body’s own resources could generate a naturally shaped and well-nourished bone structure instead.

It has now been demonstrated that a patient’s own MSCs together with bone-like scaffold materials can offer a feasible, safe, and effective approach for the management of bone defects. Clinical proof-of-concept has also been established for the scaffold-free use of MSCs.

Providers of Stem Cell Treatments for Orthopedic Conditions

The use of stem cells for treating orthopedic conditions shows great promise, but using the very latest medical research in the clinic should always go hand in hand with the highest safety. This is why we at MEDIGO want to ensure that our patients know which clinics they should opt for, and why, to ensure patient safety and the best results.

There are a multitude of clinics across the world that claim they can offer stem cell-based therapies for orthopedic problems, but many do not follow necessary guidelines that should govern the investigation of experimental treatments. This is a concern because orthopedic stem cell therapy is not yet a routine clinical method. That is why we work together only with clinics that provide treatment attempts in highly controlled conditions.

Our partner clinics have been chosen with the greatest rigor to be trusted providers of innovative medical solutions. MEDIGO has two partners in the stem cell space, Knee and Hip Institute in Germany and Okyanos Center for Regenerative Medicine in the Bahamas. Both are led by medical experts who strive to help patients with previously untreatable conditions find relief from stem cell-based therapies. Most importantly, these internationally recognized professors, scientists, and board-certified doctors partner with MEDIGO to provide every patient, regardless of their origin, treatment of the highest medical standards.

Scientific literature to dig deeper into each of these orthopedic treatment areas:

Osteoarthritis

Pers, Y., Rackwitz, L., Ferreira, R., Pullig, O., Delfour, C., Barry, F., Sensebe, L., Casteilla, L., Fleury, S., Bourin, P., Noël, D., Canovas, F., Cyteval, C., Lisignoli, G., Schrauth, J., Haddad, D., Domergue, S., Noeth, U. and Jorgensen, C. (2018). Adipose Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Based Therapy for Severe Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Phase I Dose-Escalation Trial.

Koh, Y., Kwon, O., Kim, Y., Choi, Y. and Tak, D. (2016). Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells With Microfracture Versus Microfracture Alone: 2-Year Follow-up of a Prospective Randomized Trial.

Koh, Y., Choi, Y., Kwon, S., Kim, Y. and Yeo, J. (2015). Clinical results and second-look arthroscopic findings after treatment with adipose-derived stem cells for knee osteoarthritis. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 23(5), pp.1308-1316.

Fodor, P. and Paulseth, S. (2015). Adipose Derived Stromal Cell (ADSC) Injections for Pain Management of Osteoarthritis in the Human Knee Joint. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 36(2), pp.229-236.

Koh, Y., Jo, S., Kwon, O., Suh, D., Lee, S., Park, S. and Choi, Y. (2013). Mesenchymal Stem Cell Injections Improve Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis.

Degenerative disc diseases

Noriega, D., Ardura, F., Hernández-Ramajo, R., Martín-Ferrero, M., Sánchez-Lite, I., Toribio, B., Alberca, M., García, V., Moraleda, J., Sánchez, A. and García-Sancho, J. (2017). Intervertebral Disc Repair by Allogeneic Mesenchymal Bone Marrow Cells. Transplantation, 101(8), pp.1945-1951.

Zeckser, J., Wolff, M., Tucker, J. and Goodwin, J. (2016). Multipotent Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Discogenic Low Back Pain and Disc Degeneration. Stem Cells International, 2016, pp.1-13.

Oehme, D., Goldschlager, T., Ghosh, P., Rosenfeld, J. and Jenkin, G. (2015). Cell-Based Therapies Used to Treat Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: A Systematic Review of Animal Studies and Human Clinical Trials. Stem Cells International, 2015, pp.1-16.

Tendon diseases

Usuelli, F., Grassi, M., Maccario, C., Vigano’, M., Lanfranchi, L., Alfieri Montrasio, U. and de Girolamo, L. (2017). Intratendinous adipose-derived stromal vascular fraction (SVF) injection provides a safe, efficacious treatment for Achilles tendinopathy: results of a randomized controlled clinical trial at a 6-month follow-up. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy.

Bone defects

Šponer, P., Filip, S., Kučera, T., Brtková, J., Urban, K., Palička, V., Kočí, Z., Syka, M., Bezrouk, A. and Syková, E. (2018). Utilizing Autologous Multipotent Mesenchymal Stromal Cells andβ-Tricalcium Phosphate Scaffold in Human Bone Defects: A Prospective, Controlled Feasibility Trial.

Dufrane, D., Docquier, P., Delloye, C., Poirel, H., André, W. and Aouassar, N. (2015). Scaffold-free Three-dimensional Graft From Autologous Adipose-derived Stem Cells for Large Bone Defect Reconstruction. Medicine, 94(50), p.e2220.

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