Over the past few years, the number of patients suffering from orthopedic conditions that affect the hip joint (e.g. osteoarthritis, avascular necrosis) has been on the rise.
Patients may present to their doctor signs and symptoms of pain, difficulty walking, decreased range of motion, and joint instability.
After evaluation, most of these patients will need to undergo an invasive procedure known as hip replacement, which involves the removal of the head of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum to replace them with prosthetic components.
Unfortunately, this surgery carries many risks, and the recovery time is long.
In this article, we will discuss one of the least talked-about alternatives of hip replacement surgery; stem cell therapy. Before we dig in any deeper, let us briefly define what stem cells are.
What is stem cell therapy?
A stem cell is a unique type of cell that is capable of differentiating to any tissue of the body. In other words, a stem cell is able to become a bone cell, a heart cell, or a muscle cell.
When stem cells were first discovered, scientists were exhilarated with the endless potential to use them for therapeutic purposes.
There are currently hundreds of clinical trials studying the potential use of these cells to treat numerous medical conditions, including neurodegenerative conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease), autoimmune conditions (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis) and orthopedic conditions.
Note that stem cells are currently being utilized to treat some conditions, but their potential is still being researched.
How will it help with your hip condition?
As we mentioned earlier, stem cells can become any type of tissue inside the body. The main target of stem cell therapy of the hip is to replace the damaged cartilage with new material. You may be asking yourself “How?”
Well, by injecting stem cells directly into the hip joint capsule, these cells will become activated to become chondrocytes, which produce cartilage.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to treat hip osteoarthritis resulted in positive outcomes with no side effects whatsoever.
They concluded that “No adverse effects were recorded in our experience. Preliminary results showed a positive outcome according to all the grading systems used in this study even though a longer follow up is needed to validate this study.”
Another study found that stem cell therapy can be very beneficial at the early stages of avascular necrosis, which is a medical emergency that involves the necrosis (death) of the cells in the femur head because of interrupted blood supply.
Physicians at the Mayo Clinic also support the use of this technique in patients with osteoarthritis that meet their criteria.
As you can see, there is plenty of evidence that encourages the use of stem cell therapy in the field of orthopedic surgery. Unfortunately, many are still unaware of the potential.
Stem cell therapy can revolutionize the field of orthopedic surgery. Today, many surgeons and physicians are beginning to use this therapy to … Read More...Read More