As we age, it seems inevitable that eventually our joints will wear out and begin to fail us. Years spent walking and standing in the course of our professional careers and maintaining an active lifestyle puts an enormous strain on the body’s joints, especially the knees and hips. While for some people, this phenomenon amounts to minor frustration and minimal pain, many patients develop osteoarthritis (OA) or another serious osteopathic disorder. For many years, the de facto solution for orthopedic conditions has been either surgery or a lifetime of debilitating pain and eventual disability. Unfortunately, the “solution” offered by the surgical route also carries its own risks and disadvantages. Even the simplest of procedures to correct an osteopathic/ orthopedic degeneration promises pain with healing, as well as a lengthy rehabilitation period. The most-widely practiced joint replacement procedures involve replacing the articular portions of the bone with metal prostheses. This procedure is most likely seen in the repair of hips and knees but can be used on shoulders, ankles, elbows and smaller joints as well. In many cases, patients never return to their previous levels of function and a few experience similar pain levels as before surgery. Since prostheses are foreign bodies- not natural self(autologous), they carry the risk of rejection over time- not to mention the risk of life-long, devastating infection. Yet, for many years within the medical community, if a degenerative condition has progressed to the point where analgesics and range of motion exercises cannot alleviate symptoms, surgery remains the only option to move forward with a remedy. Replacing degenerate, problematic joints, of course, remains an excellent option for most, in spite of its shortcomings.
However, just because a joint replacement is a commonly accepted practice for orthopedic indications, and for many, it still presents the best option. However, with the discovery of stem cells, advances in regenerative medicine and the realization that stem cells can evolve into articular cartilage, bone, and other degenerate tissues has changed the equation some. This is especially true when we take into account the achievements and levels of positive progress that have been made across the board in regenerative medicine. Another advantage to regenerative medicine interventions, including stem cell therapy (which we will get to momentarily), is that unlike joint replacement there are no stringent criteria for participation. For example, to be eligible for joint replacement, patients cannot be too old to safely undergo general anesthesia, or too young because they may outlive the prosthesis and need a re-replacement, when they may pose a very high operative risk. A candidate for joint replacement must have an advanced joint disease like bone-on-bone (with daily limiting chronic pain and limited range of motion significantly limiting functionality). Lastly, a candidate for joint replacement should preferably not have Co-morbid conditions that may complicate the replacement operation- such as a recent heart attack (MI), COPD, stroke (CVA) or heart failure. Given that many people suffering from Osteoarthritis or orthopedic/osteopathic conditions are often older and overweight patients (and more likely to develop concomitant diseases), these criteria have left many individuals with no viable alternatives for relief of their painful condition.
Given the obvious risks, indications and selection criteria, it is not surprising that many patients are exploring alternatives and would benefit from more public information promoting regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy.
Stem cells are a naturally-occurring part of all bodies. They are ubiquitous throughout the biological matrix of all tissue the body itself and are responsible for regeneration of tissues following injury. Generally, stem cells dwindle in numbers and activity with age; hence, a child’s wound heals with little scarring, while the same cut in an octogenarian may take much longer to heal and it does so with significant scarring, which happens when fibroblast bridge the gap with fibrous tissue. Stem cells heal would with little if any scarring. Interestingly though, the tissue that is least affected by aging with regard to stem cell activity and numbers is subcutaneous adipose tissue.
However, for tissues that are slow to regenerate and/or have a poor blood supply, like articular cartilage in joints, stem cells can jumpstart the healing process and provide the regenerative cells where they are required. Stem cells are multipotent, meaning they can differentiate into most types of tissue that needs repair or regrowth, including cartilage, bone, blood vessels, etc. Since it is mainly articular cartilage that breaks down, causing the pain, inflammation, and bone grinding it is especially good news for suffers from orthopedic/osteopathic conditions.
Stem Cell Therapy
While various clinical trials, at various stages of completion, are focused on identifying various effective sources of stem cells and growth factors, there is a specialized clinic right here on the Gulf Coast in Ocean Springs, conducting stem cell research and offer therapies using stem cells. At Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, we administer autologous adipose stem cell therapy, using stuff already present in our own fat reserves… We harvest patients’ existing fat deposits from the waistline, which are a rich source of valuable regenerative stem cells and growth factors. These procedures do not require any manipulation or culturing of the harvested cells, and can be easily accomplished on an outpatient basis over the course of a morning or long lunch break. These procedures are carried out in surgical-grade sterile conditions by experienced, skilled professionals with vast surgical experience, extending over decades. The benefits of these procedures are numerous: a minimally invasive procedure, performed through tiny nicks in the skin, minimized all surgical risks including clotting, infection, bleeding, stroke and ventilator mishap. Further benefits including avoidance of lengthy hospital stays (cost!), recovery times, rehabilitation and zero chance of rejection, since the material is autologous and returning it to the body is considered self.
As implied in the title, regenerative medicine offers a good alternative solution in lots of cases. Also, stem cell therapy has the potential to improve the lives of many Osteoarthritis sufferers in a way that surgery cannot. Regenerative medicine offers a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure, which must be a welcome alternative to many common surgeries, including hip replacement… and even the less invasive surgeries. Research is continuing unabated in various laboratories and medical facilities around the world, to advance regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies. So it is up to consumers and potential candidates to gather the necessary information and make informed decisions. For those suffering from osteoarthritis or other degenerative joint conditions, especially those considering surgery, the message is that there are other less invasive options. Perhaps these options are a better fit for your budget or lifestyle. It is up to the patient to be well informed enough to make a wise and informed decision about their healthcare. Healthcare providers are bound to stick with the proven “tried and true” methods, including surgery. People do not leave their comfort zones easily! For those considering surgery as a way to improve quality of life or to alleviate symptoms of osteopathic conditions, they may want to consider stem cell therapy early. It carries no downside, no patient has ever got worse from being administered their own stem cells, and surgery remains an option if the need arises later. At Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, we feel it is unlikely to arise.
Who we are.
At the Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, we are actively engaged in various research programs, managing a wide range of varied disorders, including those orthopedic, degenerative, neurological and autoimmune. Please feel free to contact us so that we can discuss your individual conditions and needs, as well as suitability. Please contact Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center and let us show you what “Excellence with a Human Touch” means. For more information on the full list of diseases and disorders that we currently address, please call (866) 865-4823. Our facility is located at 1153 Ocean Springs Rd., Ocean Springs, MS. 39564.