Baby Boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and by 2029, 20% of the population in the United States will be over that same age. While we’re not saying that aging joints and arthritis are inevitable rites of passage into the Golden Years, joint health is an issue as we age.
At the Regenerative Institute of Newport Beach, we’ve been studying the best ways to meet the needs of the growing older population in the US with the goal of keeping our senior patients active and healthy. One of the most promising therapies is our use of stem cells to boost joint health. This innovative treatment is already helping many of our patients, and we anticipate that we can help many more.
The following is a look at stem cell therapy and why it’s a breakthrough treatment for aging joints.
Those aching joints
Before we dive into stem cell therapy, let’s take a look at what happens to your joints as you age. Each of your joints contains several components that help with easy movement.
Since joints are usually where two or more bones meet, your body has several mechanisms in place to prevent these bones from rubbing together painfully. At the top of the list is cartilage, a slippery substance that covers the ends of your bones. Your joints also contain synovial membranes, which produce synovial fluid for lubrication in your joint.
As you age, the years of wear and tear begin to take their toll as the cartilage in your joints starts to break down. As well, your synovial fluid may decrease and your muscles begin to lose mass.
Taken all together, this leads to degenerative joint disease, which causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness. There’s no cure for this degeneration once it begins, but we’ve been able to slow its progress and manage the symptoms as we go. Until now.
We can rebuild
For decades, the medical world has cast about for ways to replenish aching joints with what they need, namely cartilage and synovial fluid to help ease movement again. While we’ve been moderately successful in mimicking your joints with artificial ones, this is an invasive process and only a last resort.
That’s when we turned to the human body for clues. Stem cells arguably lead the pack in terms of their healing powers. These cells are unique in that they’re undifferentiated, which means they aren’t designed for any single purpose. Instead, stem cells have the amazing ability to become whatever cell is needed and then multiple indefinitely as that cell.
Human stem cells are at their strongest in the embryonic stage, and they’re critical to fetal development. As adults, we still have stem cells in our bodies, which are largely found in our bone marrow and fatty tissue, but they mostly lie dormant until they’re called into action.
We provide that call to action. Using either your own stem cells, or donor stem cells, we inject them into your joints to promote healing of your soft tissue. After we inject the stem cells, your body sends in more, and they work to rebuild damaged tissue by becoming whatever type of cells are needed for the job, such as cartilage.
Research is ongoing in this field, but many believe that stem cells not only work to rebuild your joints, they also aid in reducing inflammation and pain.
The end result is that this therapy, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, may keep that spring in your step into your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond.
If you’d like to explore stem cell therapy further, we invite you to give us a call. You can also use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.