Knee pain is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. This discomfort could be due to various causes, nonetheless, it results in such pain that it can be an impediment to our daily lives. The most common form of knee pain is osteoarthritis which is a degenerative bone disease
Unfortunately, this condition is inevitable for many people. As we go through the daily motions of life, the slick and rubbery cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of our bones starts wearing down and, eventually, it reduces to nothing leaving bones rubbing painfully against each other.
A good analogy would be to think of it like a worn out brake pad. While this erosion can take place in about any ball and socket joint in the body, it typically tends to occur fast in addition to degenerating speedily infrequently used joints such as knees, hips, hands, shoulders, and the spine.
When it comes to the management of degenerative joint disease, most of the available treatments center around managing the discomfort that comes from inflammation caused by bones rubbing against each other. As such, typical treatments include anti-inflammatory pain relievers, physical therapy, surgery, and cortisone injections.
Lately, however, a new treatment has entered the block and is looking to not only alleviate the pain that comes from degenerative bone diseases but also to help regenerate the worn out cartilage tissue.
This treatment is known as regenerative stem cell therapy and is a non-surgical option that harnesses the ability of a patient’s own stem cells to repair damaged tissue to treat their degenerative condition.
Unfortunately, stem cell therapy is facing slow adoption by various bodies such as insurance providers who do not offer to pay for the procedure despite evidence that it is the superior arthritis treatment option.
This article will pit the most popular treatment – cortisone – against the superior solution – stem cell therapy to see why you should consider the stem cell therapy over cortisone injections despite the latter being cheaper.
Why Do People Get Cortisone Shots For Knee Pain and Other Joint Pains?
Cortisone is a type of corticosteroid that is typically used in pain management. One steroid characteristic is that they have some anti-inflammatory properties. This is why they sometimes offer some pain relief upon injection.
Conventionally, cortisone injections are used to provide joint pain relief. This relief will last anywhere between one and three months after the injection. The amount of relief the patient feels, however, depends on the severity of their condition. Nonetheless, these injections are usually effective for short term pain management. It basically covers up the pain. Like putting a blanket over a hole in your floor … the hole is still there, but since you can’t see it, there’s a false notion that it looks better, but in truth, is the situation just got more dangerous -Right?
The issue with cortisone injections is that they only provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation without addressing the root cause of the problem. This is why an arthritis patient needs multiple cortisone shots, and these costs eventually accumulate to obscene amounts.
A newly discovered problem about cortisone shots is that they actually cause long term joint damage. This is from findings from research that revealed that a cortisone shot for knee joint pain causes more damage to the joint . The shot that is supposed to be helping turns out to be a bit like candy which seems good at the beginning, but always causes decay and cavities which causes even more long term issue. The cortisone shot actually leads to degenerating cartilage and protein structures inside the joint capsule. In here lies the cortisone paradox, where patients come looking to find relief for their condition only to get a treatment that offers temporary relief but degenerating the joint further.
Stem Cell Shots
How do stem cells help? Stem cells are basically the reason your body can heal itself. Think back to when you were younger and you would get injured and it did not take long for your sprained joint or for any other type of injury to heal. Now compare those same type of injuries that used to take a week or two to heal, and if you get that type of injury now that you’re older it takes a lot longer time to heal. The reason is when you’re younger you have significantly more stem cells. So the simple description of how stem cells work is they are injected into the damaged joint, and the healing process begins because they allow your body to do what it used to do when you were younger which is what it is designed to do.
What Are The Role Of Stem Cells and How Do Stem Cells Work?
Essentially, they are body cells which possess the ability to duplicate themselves in addition to making different copies of themselves to suit a particular function. Even though there are various types of stem cells, those that are excellent at promoting the healing of ligaments, tendons and cartilage are known as mesenchymal stem cells, which are potent stromal cells.
Our bodies usually reserve a generous amount of these powerful cells in case they need to repair injured tissue. In addition to promoting cartilage growth, they also serve as powerful signaling cells that encourage the body to send in proteins such as cytokines – molecular messengers which slow down the rate of cartilage degeneration while easing the pain – in addition to interleukins, which are a specific type of cytokines that work to reduce the inflammation.
The goal of regenerative stem cell therapy, therefore, is to reduce pain while improving the joint’s function, in addition to stopping the death of the original cartilage cells.
Stem cell therapy, as such, provides the opportunity to fill the critical treatment gap for osteoarthritis patients, by being the alternative between pain medication and total joint replacement surgery.
Who Would Benefit Most From Stem Cell Therapy?
People suffering from the following joint conditions or looking to achieve relief with treatment that has these characteristics then you may find stem cell therapy to incredibly beneficial:
- Back pain
- Tennis elbow
- Herniated disc
- Neck pain
- Golfer’s elbow
- Rotator cuff injury
- Plantar fasciitis
- Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy
- Instant pain relief
- Fast recovery time
- Uses your natural growth factors
- Regenerates cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue
- Safe and effective
Which Is Better For You? Cortisone Shots vs Stem Cell Injections.
While cortisone injections remain the predominant method of treating joint conditions, they are not the most effective. Due to their powerful anti-inflammatory properties, cortisone shots will offer a patient pain relief, nevertheless, it is temporary as you will have to go for a follow-up shot after a short time.
And with each shot costing a significant amount, they eventually pile up and have you spend a lot of money with no end in sight. Additionally, the injections are now known to further exacerbate the condition. Stem cell therapy, on the other hand, offers patients a more permanent solution as it utilizes the body’s natural healing agents to aid in not only offering pain relief due to their powerful anti-inflammatory properties but to also stop the degeneration and promote regeneration.
Yes, stem cell therapy might seem to be a higher investment, but if the goal is to have your joint get better, then does it really make sense to inject cortisone into an already damaged joint knowing that it will only accelerate the damage and put you on the fast track to getting joint replacements? And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine who stands to make money when you get a joint replacement. Could it be the same doctor that is injecting you with the cortisone?
There’s your answer as to which is really the better option when you have to decide what is the best option for you. Right? Give us a call. We are NOT against joint replacement when you need them and they serve a very great service to thousands of people, but it should be the LAST resort, and stem cell therapy gives you a chance to rebuild, regenerate, and regrow. Get the facts. Call us to see if you’re a candidate.