Growth Factors for Arthritis: HGH and Cartilage

Growth Factors for Arthritis: HGH and Cartilage

Image Credits: Slideshare 

“Give a man health and a course to steer, and he’ll never stop to trouble about whether he’s happy or not.”- George Bernard Shaw

Article Authors: Gordon Slater | Tandose Sambo 

Arthritis is a condition that can be potentially debilitating. As a patient, you probably have realized that not all arthritis treatments are the same! You have probably tried everything under the sun, from the over the counter treatments to even the point at which you are considering surgery as an alternative to healing your persistent pain. Once you start your treatments, you realize that how you feel varies per day. You have your highs, and then you have your lows. If your pain point is high enough, you’ll be better able, with the help of your orthopaedic surgeon, to find a path that will result in the best restorative treatment. Thankfully there are evolving technologies like growth factor treatments that will help your body to self heal. 

What exactly is a Growth Factor Treatment? 

Growth Factor Treatments fall into the category of protein therapies, which help the body to naturally heal itself. As you can see from the image above, the growth factor is a  protein molecule that operates via a lock and key mechanism, to facilitate the healing process. From the study of the human body, over time with arthritis, an individual can lose their cartilage and bone due to the degenerative condition. With the evolution of therapies, it is now becoming increasingly possible to facilitate the restoration of both the bone and cartilage that was lost due to osteoarthritis. With aging populations globally, the incidence of osteoarthritis is on the rise, and the challenge in the treatments that currently exist is in the regeneration of the joint tissue that provides motion and flexibility to the hinge joint that is your ankle. 

Via growth factor treatments, the special proteins or “growth factors” that are suited for therapeutic properties are administered to the healing site. These proteins are suited for tissue repair and regeneration and supplied via platelet rich plasma (PRP). The growth factors are multi-functional, with some elements having specific functions that will enhance cartilage regeneration via a series of mechanisms. In terms of their scientifically identified focuses, there are elements such as PDGF which helps with collagen regeneration and EGF that facilitates cellular proliferation. The process is quite complex, but with the introduction of the growth hormones into a joint, the appropriate mechanisms for healing are catalyzed.

The specific healing properties have been identified, which helps to determine their applications in your therapy. Scientific studies began in the knees, and have also been applied to ankle joints as well. The success of treatments have shown that there is a decrease in pain, increase in range of motion and joint function in the treated patients. 

Current Research: 

In our third reference article, advances in growth hormone therapies are becoming better understood. Growth hormone(GH), which is a peptide hormone called somatotropin or somatropin, is proven to increase humans and animals’ cartilage growth, regeneration and cell proliferation. GH has an important role in bone and cartilage metabolism, which is mediated through insulin like growth factor (IGF-I). Moreover, GH treatment, which enhances mitotic activity while delaying cell maturation in the mandibular condylar cartilage, has a significant effect on cartilage growth. Using the intra-articular injection of rHGH on TMJ arthritis exhibited regeneration of articular cartilage layers along with the thickness compared with the control group. This result is a positive one, as the indications of internal healing of arthritis is becoming increasingly more possible. 

When is the best time to approach your Doctor about Growth Factors Treatments?

There is no best time to approach your doctor, but if you feel that you’ve reached a point where you want to try new therapies, either in the early stages of your therapy, or if you feel your current therapy isn’t sufficient, organize to discuss the evolving technology with your orthopaedic surgeon. Your doctor will then identify the series of PRP intra-articular injections as part of your treatment plan. These can be administered either as a treatment plan on their own, or alternately as a combitiation with surgical procedures such as microfractures. As an evolving technology, the treatment is evolving in the right direction. Allowing your body to self-heal is a path that is worth considering. 

Reference Articles: 

  1. Science Daily:
  2. Growth Factors in the treatment of Osteoarthritis:
  3. HGH and Cartilage:

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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