Image Credits: healthline.com
Article Authors: Gordon Slater|Tandose M Sambo
“To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” -William Londen
Osteoarthritis is a condition that many are face with. As the most prevalent joint condition, it is one of those conditions that is induced by a variety of root causes, and has many dedicated treatments. These treatments can range from natural methods, joint oils, surgical procedures, to newer methods such as those utilizing modern technology such as stem cells. The objective of these treatments is to either facilitate the healing of the arthritic joint, or in adverse instances the actual replacement of the joint.
From a biological perspective, joints are the points at which two or more bones form a union. As a mechanical unit, the free flow of the joint is facilitated by the natural lubricating agents known as cartilage. Cartilage is soft protective tissue that lines the exterior of the bone. Under the condition of osteoarthritis, the cartilage degenerates and exposes the bones to each other. The painful condition results in limited mobility of the patients. While the majority of osteoarthritis cases take place in older patients, who have reduced healing capabilities, athletes and active individuals who place stress on their joints, can also develop arthritis. If left untreated, arthritis can induce disability.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Despite its multitude of causes, the root cause of osteoarthritis is the cartilage degeneration that ultimately leads to the joint damage associated with the ailment. Any injury that results in the dislocation of a joint will produce joint damage that can also inflict symptoms of osteoarthritis. Along with a physically induced injury, it is also possible for osteoarthritis to have baseline genetic links, so ensure that your family medical history is assessed, and you’ll be able to identify with your doctor’s help, if you or your family members are at risk of the condition.
The Science of Cartilage
As a tough, flexible coating to the bone, when cartilage degenerates, the friction between the joint’s bones can cause the exposed surfaces to become jagged. Cartilage, with time and age, is not a naturally self healing mechanism, because there is limited blood supply to the area. Biologics however, is beginning to enable the facilitation of healing by introducing the appropriate growth factors that will enable the cartilage to rebuild. The symptoms that patients experience include: pain as an initial indicator of a joint issue. With inflammation, the joint will swell and tenderness be experienced. As the joints lose their flexibility, there will be stiffness experienced, often in the morning upon rising. Your orthopaedic surgeon will assess your condition and determine the best way for you to approach your treatment. With all health conditions, with time, you can actually initiate healing via the facilitation of the right internal chemistry. A good and proper diet, can reduce the internal inflammation that you experience.
The Stages of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis has the following five classifications:
Stage 0 – Normal
Stage 1 – Minor
Stage 2 – Mild
Stage 3 – Moderate
Stage 4- Severe
Consult with your orthopaedic surgeon to identify what stage of the progression you are on, if you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Cartilage loss is most prevalent in the higher tiers of the osteoarthritis scale. You are also at risk of increases in swelling and inflammation, and joint instability.
There are some conditions that take a long time to actually develop and diagnose. Osteoarthritis is one of those conditions. It is often during the periods of intense pain that one would be led to an orthopaedic specialist for the root cause of this discomfort. During your consultation, your orthopaedic surgeon will usually utilize a diagnostic tool such as an X-ray or an MRI image, in order to see the internal functions of the joint. For further details of your internal chemistry, blood tests, joint fluid tests and other tests can be conducted in order to eliminate additional root causes. From the surface, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis do have almost identical symptoms. The critical tests will provide your orthopaedic specialist with the decision making tools that will enable your condition to be diagnosed.
OSTEOARTHRITIS SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT
Once you are diagnosed, the next phase of your health management is to ensure that the symptoms are kept at bay. If you’re at Stage 0 for instance, you will start your preventative treatments that will ensure that you don’t degenerate to Stage 1 etc. Initially, your orthopaedic surgeon will prescribe treatments such as over the counter medication, in order to start the pain management process, and to counter the joint discomfort. With the appropriate lifestyle changes, you can live a normal life. Coupled with gentle exercises such as walking and swimming, you can keep your joints mobile and functioning as close to their peak as possible. If you are overweight, via diet change or an exercise regime, you will benefit from losing weight. Excess weight on joints that are not at their peak, will only increase the joint pain. Where possible, utilize heat to warm the area, and facilitate blood flow to the aching joint. Natural remedies such as fish oil, glucosamine chondroitin and ginger have been found to improve the body’s healing capability.
With a little due diligence, you will take the time to learn about your body and how it functions. Instead of worrying, you can control your health and allow your body to heal via the various available treatments. Everything in life is a choice that you make in order to have the maximum longevity possible.
Stem Cell Treatment For Articular Cartilage Degeneration and Osteoarthritis
The healing of articular cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis via the utilization of mesenchymal stem cells(MSC) therapy, is currently being studied and applied in the medical community. Scientific studies have shown that MSCs that were derived from various sources in the body such as bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical tissue, have the ability to accelerate the healing process in cartilage repair. The detailed mechanism to induce self healing via the utilization of these stem cells is currently being elucidated.
According to studies conducted, the utilization of MSCs in therapies is found to help restore the cartilage growth via two mechanisms. The initial method involves the local restoration, and the ability for the stem cells to be diffused to the site. The medical community has utilized the following methods of administration of stem cells into the body:
- Via the utilization of the MSCs that have been extracted from one of the aforementioned sources, and injecting the cells into the healing site.
- Via the utilization of a biological scaffold, that is infused with the stem cells. This bridge is able to facilitate the diffusion of the stem cells into the healing site.
- As surgical adjuvants during the treatment of degenerative conditions.
As increases in understanding of the mechanisms of healing are understood, the improvement in the efficacy and safety of the utilization of MSCs is proving to be quite effective in its application. With various studies being conducted, the medical community is aiming to identify values for the optimal stem cell concentration for infusion, as well as standardizing utilization in the medical community.
Preliminary clinical studies that are a progression from previously conducted in vitro and animal studies, provide evidence of the utilization of MSC as a non-operative therapeutic option or utilization as surgical adjuvants. If allowed to degenerate, osteoarthritis can affect from 5-50% of the general population. With treatments such as self healing methods available, it will be possible for the number to be kept at the lower end of the range.
After initial treatment via the utilization of oral analgesics, weight loss, physical therapy and exercises, osteoarthritis can be control. Where these therapies are not effective more advanced treatments such as the utilization of corticosteroid injections and stem cell infusions can then be applied.
In the body, the healing chrondocytes decrease with age. The infusion of stem cells catalyzes their generation and enables the body to suppress and even reverse the effects of degenerative cartilage disease.
The Future of Treatment
As stem cells enable chondrocyte generation from a rich and readily available cell source, it is now possible to induce the healing of joint degeneration. While MSC therapy is a potential therapy, with improved understanding, it will prove itself as an effective method of treatment of joint ailments. Clinical studies in humans and animals have shown the potential of these cells to actually increase or promote chondrogenesis. As delivery methods improve, the ability to utilize the stem cells in non-operative methods is being considered. Standardized medicine is the key to uniform healthcare, and studies persist in order to achieve this objective and guarantee safety and efficacy of the administration process.
Stem Cell Treatment: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7083980/