What you need to know about:

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Fast Fact

95%
Worth It Rating
Average Cost:
$2500
Recovery Period:
1 - 2 weeks
Permanence:
Depends on patient condition
177
Doctors
Time it takes:
30 - 60 minutes
96
Hospitals & Clinics
Reviews
Anesthetize:
Topical sedation & mild sedative pill taken orally
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Overview of

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

in Thailand

Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the use of stem cells in the affected area to address cell damage and encourage the regeneration of cells through a full repairing process. It uses the patient’s own cells to encourage healing and regeneration on the troubled spots such as knees, shoulders, hips, ankles, elbows, spine, tendons, and non-healing bone formations. 

It is a promising treatment as it has shown to be effective in treating the pain and discomfort that comes with many disorders that affect the above areas such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. It may also be useful in case of accidents or post-operative knee pain.

Goals of

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Stem cell therapy generally utilizes the body’s own mechanisms to help heal and slow down the damage and deterioration of the body’s connective tissue. More specifically stem cell therapy aims to:

  • Alleviate pain as a result of osteoarthritis (OA) or similar conditions
  • Control inflammation and adverse reactions on the troubled spot/s
  • Treat acute knee injuries as partial ligament and tendon tears 
  • Slow down or prevent the need for knee replacement surgery
  • Speed up post-surgery recovery periods and healing
  • Act as an alternative treatment to prevent the need for joint replacement surgery

Price of

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Average Cost

$2500

Price Range

$1,500 - $3,500

Pros and cons of

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Pros

Some studies show very promising results of stem cell therapy for the treatment of knee pain. In particular, stem cell therapy has been shown to:

  • Treat chronic conditions as well as acute injuries of joints and soft tissue.
  • Improve and accelerate recovery periods following acute and subacute injuries and surgeries.
  • It has a very low rejection risk as it uses the body’s own amniotic stem cells as opposed to a foreign body or substance.

Cons

  • The therapy is fairly new and experimental. While there are some studies suggesting the potential of the therapy, it’s still a fairly new procedure and it needs to be researched more to be regarded as a highly effective and safe treatment.
  • Most insurance firms do not cover the treatment. Given the new status of the treatment, most insurance companies in the U.S and abroad do not cover the cost of the treatment.

How it works:

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Stem cell therapy is based on the use of stem cells and their injection into the affected area to encourage localized self-regeneration. Stem cells are immature cells found in all the tissues of the body–a type of “building block” for the system along with protein and nutrients, responsible for creating the body’s structures. The most frequently used stem cells for knee and joint pain or inflammation are Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are derived from bone marrow and body fat transplants.

In the case of chronic osteoarthritis (OA), the cartilage that surrounds the edges of the bones and protects them from harm begins to deteriorate and damage over time and so the bones and ligaments start to rub on each other, resulting in pain, swelling, and discomfort. As the bones lose their protective layer, they also become exposed to further damage over time. While exercise and diet may help, stem cell therapy has been shown to work for cases of moderate and chronic OA as it encourages cartilage repair and prevents further deterioration of the cells in the area. 

Stem cells specifically can replace an unlimited amount of cells in the system and so it makes total sense to use them in chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, joint dysfunction, osteoporosis, and similar ailments. However, there are a limited amount of studies suggesting that stem cell therapy can encourage the repair or formation of new healthy cells and cartilage, especially in the long run, so any claims that the treatment works in this way should be taken with a grain of salt. 

How the procedure is performed

Stem cells in particular are taken from the patient’s bone marrow or fat deposits through an injection, usually from the arm. The physician who collects the sample isolates the stem cells and then injects them directly back into the knee or the damaged lesion. The whole procedure typically lasts 30 minutes to an hour.

Preparation before

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Pre - treatment

While a stem cell transplant procedure/session itself is fairly brief, the overall preparation and procedure involve the following steps:

  • Medical tests and exams to determine the status of your health. These may include electro diagrams (ECGs) to check heart rates, X-rays and/or CT scans to check the condition of the internal organs, and blood tests to determine the level of blood cells and their activity. 
  • A medical history and documentation of current medications the patient is taking. In most cases, the doctor will advise you to avoid taking any blood thinning medications a few days or a week before the actual procedure to prevent any adverse reactions. 
  • Harvesting the stem cells to be injected into the damaged area. The harvesting of the stem cells can be performed in three ways/sources: from your blood, your bone marrow, or body fat deposits. This step involves medication to activate the production of stem cells to be collected later through a needle or syringe.
  • Applying topical sedation and or taking a mild sedative pill at least 15 minutes before the procedure to ease pain and discomfort. Once the actual procedure takes place, the doctor will draw the sample from any of the above ways e.g. blood, fat, or bone marrow through a long syringe. 
  • Injection of the separated cells back into the body and particularly to the affected side through a deep syringe. This is the last and quickest step of the procedure as it takes only a few moments. 

Your doctor will advise you on any medication or other measures to take beforehand to minimize pain/discomfort during the actual procedure as well as the risk of any side effects.

Recovery after

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

Post - treatment

Since stem cell treatment is a minimally invasive medical procedure, in most cases, you don’t have to take any drastic measures post-treatment unless your doctor advises you based on your overall condition. However, your doctor may strongly advise you to:

  • Avoid taking any blood thinning medications for at least 6 weeks before the medication.
  • Rest and avoid any intense physical activity for approx. 48 hours after the actual procedure.
  • Resume physical activity and special exercises to encourage healing and recovery of the area, after 1-2 weeks have passed. 

Physical therapy following treatment is usually suggested in weeks 2-4 and may involve gentle stretching exercises, kinesiology taping, core stabilization exercises, Range of Motion (ROM) exercises, and/or myofascial release massage performed by a physiotherapist. In the subsequent weeks 4-8, your physician may advise you to do more intense exercises such as pilates, TRX, cardio, or mild weight lifting. 

Keep in mind that cells are sensitive and fragile during the first 1-2 months following the procedure and so it’s best to avoid any intense exercise or forceful loads that may strain the treated area and slow down or sabotage the healing progress.

Risks & side effects

Generally speaking, stem cell therapy is a safe procedure with minimal side effects. However, some patients experience some form of swelling and pain right after the procedure which is nothing to worry about as it usually subsides after a few days. No major side effects have been documented in studies about stem cell therapy, however, if the sample of cells comes from a foreign body other than your own, there is a risk of rejection even after the doctor has done a tissue-matching test before the procedure.

FAQs:

Stem Cell Therapy For Joint Pain

What types of soft tissue areas and ailments can be treated with stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy can be applied successfully to knees, ankles, wrists, back, shoulders, hips, elbows, bicep tendonitis, achilles tendonitis, tennis and golfer's elbow, and other connective tissues. 

Does stem cell therapy work for chronic pain management? 

While there is a need for further research, some studies have found that stem cell therapy shows potential in treating knee joint pain as a result of chronic OA with no acute side effects.

What is the cost of stem cell therapy for knees?

Although the actual cost varies from one doctor’s office or clinic to another, the average cost for one session is between $1,500-3,500. You may ask your physician for a total cost estimate before you take the procedure. 

Do insurance companies cover the cost of stem cell treatment?

Currently, most insurance companies do not cover the cost of the treatment as it is a fairly new procedure. However, this may change anytime in the future as it becomes more common. 

When can I expect to see results from stem cell treatment?

The exact healing period and results vary from patient to patient, however, most people treated start to see results e.g. pain reduction, after a few weeks following treatment with full results felt in a couple of months after the procedure.

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