Medical experts would tell you never to ignore pain, as it could indicate a problem with your overall health. Yet some people, particularly the elderly, dismiss joint pain as a normal effect of aging. If this is your case, then you might be suffering from osteoarthritis, which could only get worse the longer you ignore it.
Approximately 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, particularly people older than 65. Apart from age, obesity and previous joint injuries are just some of the most common risk factors for osteoarthritis. In time, osteoarthritis may cause bits of bone or cartilage to break off and float inside the joint space, thereby causing more pain and damage.
A Closer Look at Osteoarthritis
Normally, a healthy cartilage allows bones to glide smoothly and absorbs shock of movement. In time, however, the top layer of cartilage would wear away, causing bones to rub together. Once bones rub, you would begin to experience pain or even swelling. If left untreated, the joint may even lose its shape.
Osteoarthritis tends to happen gradually, though some people have a bigger risk of acquiring this condition than others. For instance, those who have a higher chance of suffering from arthritis are people who are overweight or who have been putting a lot of stress on their joints due to certain jobs and sports.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis often include stiffness and swelling or tenderness in one or more joints. At times, you might even hear the sound of bone rubbing on bone. Note, however, that there is no single test that can diagnose this condition. Doctors will often look at your medical history and conduct a physical exam to diagnose osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis Affects Many People
It’s even more disconcerting to learn that osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the U.S. According to experts, this prevalence is likely due to an aging population and the obesity epidemic. Studies further note that osteoarthritis accounts for more difficulty with walking and climbing stairs than other diseases. It has also been the most common reason for total hip or knee replacement.
Though surgery might seem like a viable option, know that it’s not the only option. Medical facilities now offer alternative treatment in the form of stem cell therapy.
Stem Cell Therapy: A New Option for Osteoarthritis Patients
In a nutshell, stem cell therapy involves the injection of stem cells into the affected area. Ideally, stem cells would develop into cartilage cells, which can then help suppress inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. At the same time, these stem cells would release proteins to slow down cartilage degeneration.
Numerous studies have looked into the potential of stem cell-based therapies in providing relief from osteoarthritis. Fortunately, there are numerous studies showing that stem cell therapy yields generally positive results, particularly in inhibiting the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis.
Are You an Ideal Candidate?
As of today, there are no professional medical guidelines regarding who can or cannot receive stem cell therapy. Despite this, medical experts would often recommend this therapy to healthy patients who have experienced relatively little cartilage damage. Research also indicates that those with relatively mild osteoarthritis and those with severe arthritis can gain the most out of this therapy.
One thing to note, though, is that the therapy can vary depending on your doctor. That’s why you should always ask relevant questions, such as how the stem cells will be harvested or the potential risks and complications of the procedure.
On top of these considerations, you should always go to stem cell therapists with a stellar reputation in the neighborhood. That way, you can be confident that the procedure will yield ideal results in the end.
What is Osteoarthritis?, Arthritis.org
Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis, Arthritis-Health.com