Treatments for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Treatments for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

The National Library of Medicine states that 10% of people over 55 in the United States have disabling knee osteoarthritis. If you are one of these people, finding the right treatment can be challenging, especially if you don’t want to become dependent on pain medications or go through an invasive knee surgery.

For some, surgery can be the only option, but for many others, some management strategies and less invasive options could offer relief from symptoms. 

What Is Knee Osteoarthritis? Understanding the Symptoms and Causes

Osteoarthritis of the knee occurs when the cartilage in your knee joint starts to break down. This causes the bones to rub together, leading to stiffness, swelling, and pain that can interfere with your life. 

Women are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, as are people over the age of 40, but genetics and other factors can cause it in younger people. 

Pain is the most common symptom of this condition, but there are other signs, including:

  • A puffy or swollen knee
  • Hearing a grinding or cracking noise when you move
  • Knee stiffness
  • Knee that locks up or feels stuck
  • Knee that feels wobbly

There can be many causes of knee osteoarthritis. Having a body mass index of 30 or more puts pressure on your knees and can cause inflammation. This inflammation can lead to arthritis or make existing arthritis worse. 

You can also develop this condition if you suffer a knee injury or have a prior knee injury. If you have close relatives who’ve had knee osteoarthritis, you’re also more likely to struggle with this problem.

If you frequently put stress on your knees, whether by playing sports or as a result of your job, you can also develop osteoarthritis in your knee. 

Treating Knee Osteoarthritis 

If you have signs of osteoarthritis, there are a number of treatment options you can talk to your doctor about.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight 

If you have risk factors that can increase your chances of developing knee osteoarthritis or if you already have the condition, ensuring your weight is healthy is vital. The Arthritis Foundation states that being just 10 pounds overweight can put 15 to 50 pounds of extra weight on your knees. That makes the development of osteoarthritis more likely. 

Losing weight allows you to reduce some of that strain on your knee joints. Aside from that, losing weight also helps reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can help with arthritis. 

Getting Regular Exercise

Those who have knee osteoarthritis can also benefit from getting regular exercise. It can help you lose weight, increase your mobility, and build up muscle strength to support your knee joints. 

It is important to choose low-impact aerobics options that are suitable for your health level. These can include:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling 
  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Walking

Riding a stationary bike can be very helpful for maintaining strength in the hamstring muscle groups without putting extra pressure on your knee. It’s best to have a doctor or physical therapist at your side to help you put together an exercise plan.

Using Medications for Pain and Swelling Relief

For people who are dealing with a lot of pain and swelling, one option is to turn to medications. Over-the-counter painkillers are one option, and many of them offer anti-inflammatory properties that help with the swelling that might be impeding you from moving freely. 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, as well as acetaminophen for those who can’t take NSAIDs, can be helpful for osteoarthritis pain. 

If these aren’t effective, there are prescription options your doctor could recommend. These may include opioids and even injectable steroids for people with severe inflammation. 

Prescription medications can cause side effects. Because they don’t actually do anything to heal your body and only help you manage the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, the moment you stop taking them, the pain and inflammation will usually return. 

Turning to Regenerative Medicine

One promising option for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis is regenerative medicine. It is a field of medicine that strives to harness the body’s natural healing powers to make them work in the areas where you need them most. There are a number of treatments, including platelet-rich plasma therapy and stem cell therapy

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the platelets in your blood, which have clotting abilities and can stimulate many healing processes. 

By separating the platelets from the other components in your blood, like white blood cells, red blood cells, and more, and concentrating them in the liquid portion of your blood, you can give the treatment area a boost of growth factors. These growth factors encourage the healing process.

Stem cell therapy uses stem cells gathered from your fat or bone marrow to stimulate the regeneration of damaged tissue. Stem cells have endless regenerative powers, and they’re able to transform into the exact type of cells you need.

Regenerative medicine offers the chance to decrease inflammation in the area, allowing blood to flow more freely and bring with it oxygen and nutrients. Less inflammation can also mean less pain because you aren’t putting as much pressure on nearby nerves. 

Another benefit of regenerative medicine is that it is minimally invasive, so you don’t have to worry about a long recovery period. Most people are good candidates for this type of procedure as well. 

Choosing Surgery

In severe cases, surgery may be the only way to treat knee osteoarthritis. You can get arthroscopic surgery, which is less invasive because it uses an arthroscope. This is a small camera that guides the surgeon in repairing the damaged area. 

A total knee replacement can be another option. It can be done as minimally invasive or open surgery, depending on your overall health. 

Stem cell therapy can still apply as a post-surgery option to help speed up recovery and manage inflammation and pain during the healing process.

Getting Relief from Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms 

If you are struggling with knee osteoarthritis, getting relief from the inflammation and pain can mean considering all available treatment options. By turning to your doctor, you can make sure you have the best chance of achieving the help you deserve. 

Knowing the Different Types of Regenerative Medicine

Knowing the Different Types of Regenerative Medicine

For the treatment of a variety of health conditions, one option more people are relying on is regenerative medicine. This field focuses on helping your body’s natural healing process function at its best, making it possible for tissues to regenerate so that you can obtain pain relief and improve mobility. There are various types of regenerative medicine. Learn more about them to know the choices you have.

Regenerative Medicine: What It Is and What It’s Used For

Regenerative medicine is a group of treatments focused on healing tissues throughout the body while also restoring the function you may have lost because of aging, medical conditions, and more. 

When you’re young, your body is able to heal more efficiently, but the older you get, the longer the healing process can take. In some instances, this longer length of time even leads to the development of chronic pain issues that can be tough to deal with. 

With regenerative medicine, you get the chance to try minimally invasive treatments that can offer results. Most of the best regenerative medicine options focus on stem cells, but some also rely on your blood’s components to provide lasting results. 

Regenerative medicine can offer help for many types of issues, including:

The kind of condition you have may dictate the type of regenerative treatment that has the potential to be most effective. 

The Different Kinds of Regenerative Medicine Therapies

There are many regenerative medicine therapies to choose from, but some of the most trusted include stem cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma, and prolotherapy.

What Is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy is a treatment option that utilizes stem cells to promote healing. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can create specialized ones. They have the ability to self-renew and create functional tissues, working as the body’s repair system. 

During stem cell therapy, your healthcare provider injects stem cells into the treatment area. There are different types of stem cells, including adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. 

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in various tissues throughout the body, including fat and bone marrow. They have a more limited ability to differentiate than embryonic stem cells, but they are much more readily available because they come from your body. 

Mesenchymal stem cells are found in fat and bone marrow, among other tissues, and they can help the body respond to inflammation and promote healing. 

What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?

Your blood is made up of a few components, including:

  • White blood cells
  • Red blood cells
  • Plasma
  • Platelets

Plasma is the liquid portion of blood. Platelets are not actually cells but cell fragments that help with the clotting process and contain growth factors that can stimulate cellular reproduction as well as healing at the treatment site. Platelet-rich plasma refers to plasma that has more platelets than usual.

To create a PRP injection, your doctor takes a sample of your blood and runs it through a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the sample very rapidly, dividing the blood components so that your doctor can extract the platelets and add them to the plasma. This is then injected at the treatment area.

PRP therapy can be a good option for the treatment of ligament injuries, osteoarthritis, post-surgical healing, and even hair loss. 

These injections work to reduce inflammation at the treatment site, which allows better circulation. More blood flow means the area receives more nutrients and oxygen, helping with the healing process. Less inflammation also means less pain. 

What Is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is another type of regenerative medicine that can be used to relieve pain. It involves injecting a small amount of an irritant, like sugar, into the treatment area. This irritant trigger an immune response and jumpstarts your body’s natural ability. 

It shows promise in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including issues with your bones, ligaments, soft tissues, and more. 

Your body responds to the sugar or other irritant as a threat, triggering your immune and healing responses to rush to the area to remove the irritant and also begin the healing process. 

Benefits of Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine offers the chance to get relief from pain and inflammation without having to go through invasive procedures. Most regenerative medicine options require only a minimally invasive procedure, like providing a sample of blood or undergoing a mini liposuction procedure to obtain fat. 

Because regenerative medicine procedures don’t require an elaborate process, you don’t have to worry about a long preparation or recovery period. You can usually get back to your normal life right after receiving treatment. 

Regenerative medicine works to help manage the underlying cause of the pain you’re experiencing. It doesn’t just mask symptoms as pain medication and anti-inflammatories do. By offering the potential of healing injuries, it may be able to provide lasting relief. 

Regenerative medicine is also more affordable than an invasive procedure like surgery. The surgery itself is costly, and the recovery can mean relying on physical therapies that add to the budget. That is not an issue you have to worry about with regenerative medicine options like stem cell therapy, PRP therapy, or prolotherapy. 

Managing Pain and Inflammation with Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine holds significant promise for the treatment of conditions that cause pain and inflammation. By relying on your natural healing process, regenerative medicine only improves what your body does. 

If you’re considering regenerative medicine to help with any conditions you face, ask your healthcare provider about it to see if it’s a good choice for you. 

A Study on Effects of BPC 157 for Multiple Types of Knee Pain

A Study on Effects of BPC 157 for Multiple Types of Knee Pain

Currently, 1 in every 4 adults suffer from chronic knee pain; this represents a 65% increase over the last 20 years. While knee pain can be caused by several causes, including meniscus tears, tendinosis, sprains, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, osteoarthritis (OA) remains the most common contributor to this condition. 

In this study, Lee and Padgett evaluate the use of the peptides BPC157 and thymosin-beta-4 (TB4) for the treatment of knee pain. Specifically, as part of this study, 17 patients received peptide therapy consisting of BPC157 or a combination of BPC157 and TB4 injections for their knee pain.

It is estimated that the human body has nearly 300,000 peptides. These peptides consist of chains of amino acids that range from 2 to 100 amino acids in length. One specific peptide, BPC157, when isolated, has demonstrated restorative properties that have helped in the repair of tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and bone fractures. BPC157 has also been found to promote recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI), reduce blood clots, and protect the liver.

Because of its reported acceleration of recovery from ruptured tendons, BPC157 has also become a favored therapeutic option by athletes looking to speed up the healing of their injuries. Prior to this study, no study using BPC157 in humans has been published, nor has this peptide received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States.

TB4 is FDA-approved and a naturally occurring peptide that originates in the thymus gland. TB4 possesses a range of healing and regenerative properties, including accelerating recovery from skin wounds, TBI, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. TB4 has also been shown to reduce inflammatory markers and pain.

The patients involved in this study either received only an intra-articular injection of BPC157 or a combination of both BPC157 and TB4 injections. 

As a follow-up, and as part of this retrospective study, the author followed up with patients between 6 months and 1 year after receiving peptide injections in their knee. Of those receiving only the intra-articular injection of BPC157, 91.6% reported significant improvements in knee pain while 75% of patients who received both peptides showed significant improvement. 

While treating knee pain with BPC157 and TB4 has demonstrated potential for future therapeutic options, the author calls for additional larger studies to better understand improvements in structural changes and increased collagen production in patients with OA-induced knee pain.

Lee concludes that this retrospective study demonstrates that BPC157 has been shown to help reduce knee pain and have prolonged effects lasting over six months, a significant benefit when compared to the documented short-lived results of steroid treatment. Source: “Intra-Articular Injection of BPC 157 for Multiple Types of Knee Pain.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34324435/

Four Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Four Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Do you experience pain or discomfort in your lower back? Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints for both men and women, especially as they get older. If you live with lower back pain, you understand how much it can impact your quality of life and your ability to perform certain tasks. Learn more about the most common causes of lower back pain.

1. Herniated Disc

Your lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae stacked on top of one another with a cushioned disc between each one. Each disc contains a thick inner gel. When one of these discs herniates, its inner gel slips past the outer rind and presses on surrounding nerves. This can result in pain and discomfort in the lower back. 

Herniated discs can occur suddenly due to trauma or injury. They can also develop gradually due to age-related strain.

2. Compression Fracture

Compression fractures are another common cause of lower back pain. A compression fracture occurs when a vertebra in your lower spine collapses in on itself. This can lead to severe pain and limited spinal mobility. 

Compression fractures happen most often in patients who have osteoporosis. They can also be caused by an injury.

3. Spondylolisthesis

One of the most frequent causes of lower back pain is spondylolisthesis. This happens when one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it. This leads to increased compression on the disc separating the two vertebrae. 

Over time, the disc will begin to deteriorate and cause chronic pain. Spondylolisthesis can occur with age or as the result of an injury.

4. Strains or Sprains

Most cases of lower back pain are caused by simple wear and tear and lead to degenerative disc disease. Throughout your day, you move in ways that put increased pressure on your lower spine. Exercise, heavy lifting, and other activities can all strain your lower back and eventually lead to pain or discomfort. This is why lower back pain is more prevalent with age.

Treating Lower Back Pain

There are many different ways to manage lower back pain, depending on the underlying cause. Certain issues require surgical intervention, while others can be relieved with medication. An innovative approach to lower back pain is regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy. Regenerative medicine may have benefits to help heal your spine and relieve many of your symptoms. If you have lower back pain, speak to your doctor about potential treatment options.

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation and How Does It Work?

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation and How Does It Work?

When the body experiences damage, pain signals the brain that an injury occurred, allowing the body to react and prevent further damage. However, in some cases, the body’s pain response to injury lasts longer than it should, leading to chronic pain that causes its own harm. One cause of chronic pain is when nerve signals become damaged, sending pain signals even when the body isn’t experiencing damage. In these cases, spinal cord stimulation may interrupt these pain signals, offering relief to people experiencing chronic pain. So what is spinal cord stimulation? Keep reading to find out!

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a newer treatment for managing chronic pain that stops the pain signals coming from the spinal cord. It is specifically used in cases where the cause of the pain can’t be remedied.

Patients using SCS to manage their pain will have a spinal cord stimulation device surgically implanted in their spine. The device contains multiple components, including:

Neurostimulator Device

The neurostimulator device, also called a pulse generator, is surgically implanted below the skin of the upper buttock or abdomen and delivers mild electrical stimulations that the patient typically can’t feel.

Leads

Tiny stimulating medical wires, also known as electrodes, are attached to the neurostimulator device that sends the stimulation to the epidural space near the spine. When the leads send their signals over the spinal cord, pain signals can’t communicate, and pain is blocked. 

Physician Programmer

This is a computer at the physician’s office that your spinal specialist uses to set stimulation levels and appropriately adjust the neurostimulator device.

Handheld Programmer

This device resembles a remote control that patients can use to adjust their stimulation. The patient can change the stimulator’s function based on activities or varying pain levels. 

How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?

SCS provides pain relief by modifying pain messages before they reach the brain. The neurotransmitter device sends electrical pulses through the leads that can get to the brain faster than the body’s pain signals. As a result, patients undergoing SCS should feel a tingling sensation instead of pain. 

Once implemented, patients can use their remote control or handheld programmer when they feel pain. The remote control can adjust the location and strength of the electrical stimulation. For example, patients can change their stimulation levels for different activities or days when they feel more or less pain.

Is Spinal Cord Stimulation Effective?

While SCS treatments continue to develop, they may already be an effective treatment method for many patients. For example, patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome failed back surgery, and other chronic pain conditions are finding relief through SCS. If you would like to learn more about Spinal Cord Stimulation and how it can help, contact us today at Stemedix!

What Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

What Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

The human shoulder is not as simple as it looks from the outside. It’s made of multiple bones, tendons, and muscles that all work together to give you a full range of motion. The three bones in the shoulder are the scapula (shoulder blade), the humerus (upper arm bone), and the clavicle (collar bone). In this article with will discuss shoulder impingement syndrome.

A group of tightly packed muscles known as the rotator cuff stretches from your shoulder blade to the top of your humerus to keep the humerus sitting comfortably in the glenohumeral joint, or shoulder joint. The rotator cuff is what gives you the ability to rotate your arms and raise them above your head. 

However, with so many moving parts packed into such a small area, there are lots of opportunities for something to go wrong. Since the rotator cuff sits between two bones, it’s vulnerable to becoming pinched between them. This is known as shoulder impingement syndrome. 

What Causes Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome can be caused by anatomical abnormalities, such as bone spurs, that limit the amount of room the humerus has to move within the shoulder joint. However, it’s more often caused by overuse of the shoulder or injury. 

When the rotator cuff is overused, injured, or irritated, the tendons begin to swell. You’ve probably experienced swelling in other parts of your body before. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s usually not a big deal and subsides within a few days. But since the rotator cuff is surrounded by bone, it doesn’t have room to swell without the tendons rubbing against bone. 

The more the tendons rub against bone, the more swollen they become. And the more swollen they become, the more they rub against the adjacent bones. It’s a vicious circle that can be hard to break. 

How To Manage The Pain

Shoulder impingement syndrome can limit your range of motion by causing weakness and stiffness in your arm and making it painful to lift, reach, and rotate your arm. But the pain can be managed using a few different methods. 

When the syndrome is caught early, physical therapy can be very effective at reducing inflammation, improving your range of motion, and strengthening your rotator cuff. NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can also be taken to temporarily reduce the pain caused by swelling and inflammation. For severe cases of shoulder impingement syndrome, surgical intervention may be required. 

However, an increasing number of people are looking into regenerative medicine as an alternative option to avoid surgery and, in some unavoidable cases, recover from surgery. Mesenchymal stem cells offer a potential therapeutic and restorative option to help manage pain, decrease inflammation, and repair damaged tissues. Their paracrine signaling through extracellular vesicles generates a regenerative microenvironment that helps to inhibit scar tissue formation, reduce inflammation, and promote angiogenesis. If you would like to learn more about the treatment options for shoulder impingement syndrome, contact a care coordinator today at Stemedix!

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