For a long period of time, elderly people have been suffering from pain in the knees, hips, elbows and other joints.
I never thought that this “aged” disease will be “my” disease. I am only 28. It started 3 years ago when I felt intense, sharp pain in my shoulder for the first time. It was out of the blue and I didn’t think it was significant, but the pain got worse and spread. It became difficult to move my arm. Painkillers were my friends for several weeks. Finally, I resigned to visit a doctor. His verdict scared me a lot: “You have osteoarthritis! You may need to think about a surgery”. I didn’t expect that verdict. And I started to find information about my options.
I found a lot information in the internet to be very contradictory. I needed an expert’s opinion as to what I should do. I didn’t want a surgery, drugs or constant pain. I visited a lot of doctors and one of them told me: “Stem Cell therapy could be your only solution”. I decided to ask experts from Swiss Medica about Stem Cell Therapy. In this article you will find information about arthritis, its symptoms and causes, what stem cell therapy means, types of cells used for therapy, the advantages of stem cell treatment and even the clinical study results.
What does arthritis mean?
Arthritis means joint inflammation, but this term is used to describe about 200 conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint, and other connective tissue. A major factor in these ailments is cartilage damage. Cartilage is a firm but flexible connective tissue in your joints. It protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created when you move and put stress on them.
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body. These attacks affect a soft tissue in your joints that produces fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.
It can occur at any joint in the body. The “common” affected parts are: knees, hips, spine and hands.
– sharp pain,
– swelling in and around one or more joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly.
What is the cause of arthritis?
According to the medical expert, there is no single cause of all types of arthritis.
-immune system dysfunction
Most types of arthritis are linked to a combination of factors, but some have no obvious cause and sometimes they appear to be unpredictable in their emergence.
What are my options?
Those, who suffer from arthritis and arthrosis, are advised to utilize physical therapy (exercises), slings, splints, or surgical processes. Most patients are advised to go for the surgery, but not many of them want these surgeries. Many side effects, long recovery time and helpful surgeries aren’t available to everyone across the globe. These are some of the reasons to travel abroad for stem cell therapy.
Why Stem Cell therapy for arthritis?
“Stem cells are unique cells. They are able to replace lost tissue because of their ability to keep dividing over time, producing new healthy cells.
There are two main mechanisms for stem cells.
The 1st one: SC helps to block inflammation in the joints. They block mechanisms that support chronic inflammation inside joints. Stem cells are injected into the joint, where they replace damaged, dysfunctional or injured tissue and restore its structure.
The 2nd is the regenerative effect in cartilage. The metabolism in the joint is activated and eventually returns to normal.
How can stem cells be applied?
They can be applied during:
- a surgery (such as the surgical repair of a torn knee meniscus)
- delivered through injections directly into the arthritis joint
When administering intra-articular stem cell injections for arthritis, physicians use medical imaging, such as ultrasound, in order to deliver cells precisely to the site of cartilage damage.
What can I expect?
-The positive effect in a short period of time
– No pain in your joint
– Reduction of inflammation
– The ability to return to normal life
The advantages are:
– No use of drugs (hard pain killers) that can cause severe side effects or have contraindications
– The possibility to avoid/postpone joint replacement
– Immune system is not drastically suppressed
– No radiation prior to the procedure
– Very quick and easy recovery because no foreign materials are introduced in this treatment
– No chance of rejection
Stem cell treatment can help patients develop new, healthy cells to repair the injured area or diminish harmful pain by lowering swelling and normalizing the immune response.
While discussing the benefits of stem cell therapy for arthritis, a Swiss Medica Expert shared some results from clinical studies with me;
- 1. To assess whether the infusion of the cell product was beneficial patients were tested before and at different times after completing the cell infusion schedule. Results show that in all patients the infusion of the cell product brought about an improvement in pain, function and range of motion during the follow-up period of 16–40 months after cell infusion.
- 2. This double-blind, controlled study involved 55 patients at 7 institutions who underwent a partial medial meniscectomy. Those patients who received mesenchymal stem cells, injected 7-10 days after the meniscectomy, demonstrated meniscus regeneration and a significant reduction in knee pain.
- 3. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were injected into 18 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, to treat cartilage loss. Patients who received the higher-dose of MSCs saw a decrease in their cartilage defect and an increase in the volume of cartilage, resulting in improved function and decrease pain of the knee joint.
- 4. Mesenchymal Stem Cell therapy in 12 patients was followed up to 2 years. The functional improvement was up 78%. A significant improvement in the quality of the cartilage was noted 2 years after treatment. The authors concluded that stem cell therapy may be a valid alternative treatment for chronic knee osteoarthritis. The intervention is simple, does not require hospitalization or surgery, provides pain relief, and significantly improves cartilage quality.
What kind of stem cells can be used?
Sources of stem cells
|Autologous (Patient’s body tissues)||Allogeneic (Donating stem cells)|
|Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)
Stem cell definition
– reduce joint destruction
– differentiate into chondrocytes (produce and maintain a cartilaginous matrix, which is destroyed because of arthritis),
– produce and secrete a vast array of mediators of cell function (repair the damaged area and have anti-inflammatory effect)
Mesenchymal stem cells are harvested from:
- Adipose stem cells (harvested using surgery or liposuction).
- Peripheral blood stem cells (found in the bloodstream)
- Bone marrow stem cells (from one of the patient’s bones).
There are proven studies, that stem cells can transform to accommodate a certain need when placed into a certain environment. For instance, stem cells that are placed near damaged cartilage are hypothesized to develop into cartilage tissue.
How is the procedure carried out?
When asked about the procedure, Swiss Medica doctor explained this question in detail:
“To prevent or delay OA, direct stem cell injection can be effective because of its anti-inflammatory function. It is a minimally invasive procedure. The specialized cells are injected into you. In your case the cells will be injected into the knee”.
The stem cells are injected into the region which is experiencing symptoms of arthritis.
How long does the procedure last?
does it hurt?
“No, it doesn’t. You can feel a little sting but it ends very quickly. Stem cell patients comfortably walk out on their own and return to work and daily activities within a couple of days”.
Is it safe?
“Yes, it is. There is a very small chance of side effects”.
The approach for anesthesia is discussed before the treatment. So, in case of necessity, local and general anesthesia can be used. In most cases, it is local anesthesia with painkillers”.
“Stem cell treatment for knees is noninvasive and rarely painful. Side effects are minimal. For the few that experience negative side effects, the most frequent experiences after the procedure include mild pain at the injection site, swelling, and some joint stiffness”.
What additional methods should be used with Stem Cell treatment?
This question was addressed to a Swiss Medica physical therapist who explained to me my additional options.
“Arthritis cannot be cured, but the right treatment can greatly reduce symptoms. In addition to the treatments your doctor recommends, you can make a number of lifestyle changes that may help you manage your arthritis. Special therapy which includes exercise helps strengthen the muscles around the affected joint”.
The most useful therapy methods that can be used with stem cell treatment for arthritis are below.
MR-Therapy (Magnetic Resonance) device. Transfer energy directly into cells of tissues.
MR-Therapy (Magnetic Resonance) works at a cellular level. MBST transfers energy directly into the cells of the tissue being treated to stimulate the regenerative processes.
For a cell to function and survive it needs a constant supply of adequate energy. MBST saturates targeted cells with energy, which stimulates the growth of new cells.
Thus in areas where body tissue, such as cartilage or bone, has been worn away or reduced for other reasons, MBST can stimulate new growth of tissue and rebuild cartilage and bone.
An additional method to stem cell therapy for arthritis
Shockwave is an acoustic wave which carries high energy to painful spots and myoskeletal tissues with subacute, subchronic and chronic conditions. Shockwave therapy is a multidisciplinary device used in orthopaedics, physiotherapy, sports medicine, urology and veterinary medicine. It can increase local blood flow, improve healing response, break apart scar tissue and adhesions, reduce muscle spasm, and directly decrease pain. The energy promotes regeneration and reparative processes of the bones, tendons and other soft tissues.
Being a non-surgical therapy with no need for painkillers makes it an ideal therapy to speed up recovery and cure various indications causing acute or chronic pain.
- TRANSCRANIAL ELECTRICAL STIMULATION
Smooth electrical signals with certain parameters are applied to the hypothalamus in order to increase the activity of cells. The effects include:
– Normalization of the neuroendocrine complex
– Strong positive influence on the emotional and mental state of the patient
– Acceleration of the restoration of damaged structures
– Suppressed or dramatically decreased pain, twitching and anxiety
– Improved immune system
– Lower level of stress hormones
This is a non-invasive brain stimulation with the potential to enhance the effectiveness of exercise in knees with OA. Weak direct currents are applied to the brain via scalp electrodes to increase (anodal stimulation) or decrease (cathodal stimulation) the excitability of neurons in the region below the electrode and in distant interconnected areas. Studies showed that anodal stimulation can reduce pain through modulation of pain processing in cortical and subcortical regions, facilitation of descending antinociceptive pathways, and induction of synaptic change, reminiscent of neuroplasticity, in underlying brain regions .
- HYPOXI-HYPEROXY THERAPY
Hypoxi–hyperoxy therapy destroys worn out, old mitochondria and accelerates the formation of more healthy, physiologically younger mitochondria in cells. As a result you can see:
- Normalization of the immune system, reduction of fatigue, improvement in the well-being of patients, stress reduction, and the reduction of the effects of certain allergens;
- Decrease in blood pressure;
- Improvement of blood flow in tissues and organs (stimulation of blood formation, opening of non-functioning capillaries, releasing of blood elements);
- Protection mechanism of mucous membrane;
- Improvement of tracheobronchial passage;
- Activation of alveoli ventilation;
- Activation of the body’s antioxidant system;
- Prevention of premature aging.
- LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE
Lymphatic drainage is a massage treatment that is gentle and rhythmical. It stimulates the circulation of lymph fluid around the body. This helps to rapidly speed up the removal of wastes and toxins from a sluggish lymphatic system. Lymphatic massage can also aid in the prevention of swelling after injury or surgery. It is also thought to provide a major boost to your immune system.
Kinesiotherapy is the exercise principle adapted to enhance strength, endurance, and mobility of individuals with functional limitations or those requiring extended physical conditioning.
Kinesiotherapy involves an evaluation and a program of exercise therapy and training to help improve a patient’s strength, endurance and mobility.
It helps patients reach their highest physical abilities.
What are the reviews of Swiss Medica by patients who have undergone such treatment?
Based on Swiss Medica patients review:
“ She’d had stem-cell treatments for last three or four days and what we found is she is feeling stronger, she looked a little bit better and she has less pain. Now for my mom to say that – that’s quite huge”.
“I had the arthroscopy and then the pain got so severe I was going to have to have knee replacements. So I booked to have that. Then a friend of mine contacted me who’s who had a great friend who had very, very bad knees, he couldn’t walk or ski or play golf. She had stem-cell treatment which I hadn’t even heard of and it helped her!”
“I received stem cell treatment from bone marrow and adipose tissue three months ago. I have been suffering from many autoimmune diseases for numerous years and I already started to notice improvements in my condition because of the stem cell treatment. Before this I have had immunosuppressive therapies and now thanks to stem cell therapy I am able to stop with immunosuppressive therapies without any harsh unwanted effects. I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis that currently completely disappeared even without immunosuppression. I am very satisfied and I can walk up the stairs swiftly. Also I have pulmonary fibrosis. I haven’t had any big improvements in it so far but I hope that I am on the right track and that pulmonary fibrosis will improve as well. Small indications are noticeable already. Stem cell therapy has been a great experience for me after almost 40 years”.
Other comments you can find below.