According to the Arthritis Foundation, an estimated 54 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, with the most common form being osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 31 million Americans.
Many arthritis sufferers are genetically predisposed to getting the disease. But for those without a family history of arthritis, several factors can increase their risk of developing the condition, including age and obesity. However, one often overlooked contributing factor to arthritis is the impact of injury to the joints. Many orthopedists refer to this as post-traumatic arthritis due to an arthritis causing event (ACE).
Nearly 5.5 million Americans develop arthritis as a result of an injury to a joint. It is easy to see why many former football players have arthritic knees, given the frequency and severity of knee injuries sustained during their careers. But anyone—from the high school soccer player to the warehouse worker who engages in repetitive lifting—can injure their joints and increase their risk of developing arthritis later in life. This is especially concerning since the number of young athletes requiring ligament repair surgery continues to grow. Studies show that those who have surgery to treat a joint injury are at greater risk for developing arthritis by the age of 30.
Joint Anatomy 101: An Interconnected System
Arthritis develops when the cushioning cartilage between the bones in our joints wears down. Chronic pain, stiffness and swelling are the most common symptoms. But our joints are more than bones and cartilage. They also include muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves.
An arthritis-causing event (ACE) can include an injury to the cartilage, to the cushioning structures (such as the meniscus or the labrum) or to the ligaments (ACL or MCL). Ligament injuries cause the joint to be unstable and can lead to cartilage loss and bone spurs. But damage to the ligaments and the risk for developing arthritis later can be easily fixed—if identified correctly and early.
If you have a joint that “cracks” and “pops” don’t ignore it—even if you’ve been told your ligament is not torn or in need of surgical repair. At Stem Cell Arts we will perform a stress ultrasound, where we manipulate and stress the joint while looking at the ligaments to see how loose they are.
If the stress ultrasound reveals ligament laxity, we can provide you with a targeted injection of platelet rich plasma (PRP) that will usually help the ligament heal and tighten to provide better stability to the joint. Our Stem Cell ARTS physicians and staff have been specially trained to perform the Regenexx® family of PRP and stem cell procedures. Using state-of-the-art equipment, we can create the highest quality customized platelet concentrates to aid in healing.
If you, or someone you know, has suffered a joint injury but has reoccurring symptoms such as cracking or popping, please contact us. We can assess the extent of any lingering injuries to the joints and using our advanced platelet rich plasma therapies, help prevent further degeneration.
StemCell ARTS is part of a research consortium that includes clinics from around the globe. At the center, the Regenexx research lab. This location is the site of the research that provides the cutting edge procedures offered at the Regenexx affiliate locations. StemCell ARTS is proud to introduce another procedure being offered to help treat patients with musculoskeletal injuries or degenerative conditions.
Alpha-2-macroglobulin, referred to as A2M, is now available as a treatment option in both ourTysons Corner, VAand Chevy Chase, MD offices. A2M has been shown to provide benefit in those suffering from arthritic joints. Studies have indicated that A2M can reduce cartilage breakdown and inhibits a collagen breakdown protein involved in the progression of arthritis. This new and exciting treatment can be used in patients suffering from swelling of the joints and active patients looking to keep their joints healthy.
Our StemCell ARTS team recently received amazing recognition from Maria, a patient under the care of Dr. Robert H. Wagner in the Tysons Corner, VA office. Maria explains her experience after undergoing the Stem Cell series of injections to treat knee arthritis.
“I have started taking walks and even joined a line dancing group thanks to your work. Every now and then I have pain to the point where I slow down and have to take it easy, at least for a day. With both the right and left knees affected by osteoarthritis I can’t really complain about the mobility that I have at this point on both knees. I am thankful that I had the injection done in the right knee and the stem cell on the left, both treatments have helped me up to this point.”
Adhesive capsulitis, also known as ‘frozen shoulder’ is a common condition that affects about 3% of the population. It affects the joint capsule and ‘freezes’ it so range of motion is greatly diminished. Often, frozen shoulders clear up within a year, for those with permanently restricted ROM, there are few treatments out there for them, especially if they suffer from arthritis as well.
Solutions Offered at StemCell ARTS
Those who wish to receive stem cell treatments and are diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis, do not make the best candidates. However, our physicians here at StemCell ARTS use a technique called “joint expansion injections” in an attempt to expand the joint in order for stem cells to proliferate in the joint. Expansion injections are typically performed in a set of three, one injection for three weeks. Patients come into the office where our physician injects the affected joint with 30cc or more of a saline and anesthetic solution under fluoroscopic guidance. The idea of these injections is to break the cycle of inflammation and contraction of the joint. No more than 2 hours afterwards, patients attend a physical therapy session where the therapist works on stretching and expanding the joint. This would typically be fairly uncomfortable, but the anesthetic from the injection helps counter the pain. After the series is complete, patients are often considered better candidates for the stem cell series because most, if not all, of their range of motion has returned.
Check out our website to see if we can help with your shoulders!
High Quality Concentrated Fish Oils Can Help with Arthritis Pain!
Recent studies have shown that fish oils and the Omega fatty acids they contain can help your body combat arthritis pain. Our bodies are able to produce most of the essential fats that we need, however that is not true for Omega-3s. These nutrients must come from an outside source such as fatty fish like salmon or from high quality over the counter fish oil capsules. They have been proven to provide those patients suffering from arthritis pain with some relief. It is widely considered to be a safer alternative than over the counter NSAIDs, and some research has shown that patients no longer have to rely on NSAIDs and only routinely take Omega-3s.
These supplements will affect each patient differently, and therefore not recommended for everyone. For those considering regenerative treatments in our clinic, our physicians may suggest a high quality fish oil from a company called Xymogen in order to help before, during, and after your platelet treatments. Please consult with your physician before beginning any supplement regimen.
See what Dr. Christopher Centeno says regarding fish oils and your healing!
Hands are used frequently in most daily activities. As a result, the pain and discomfort caused by arthritis of the hand can negatively impact how people go through daily life. Since hands are used so often, the constant swiveling and pivoting of the joints in the hands easily wear out the joints. Arthritis, especially of the hands, is often thought to happen later in life. However, the persistent motion of the hand joints can cause the condition to appear early in life. This is particularly true of people who use their hands for athletic activities, or those who perform intricate arts and crafts. Previously, surgery was one of the only options for those suffering from arthritis of the hands hoping to relieve the pain.
STEM CELLS TO TREAT HAND ARTHRITIS
Fortunately, StemCell ARTS offers stem cell procedures that help patients achieve pain relief AND avoid surgery. Seem too good to be true? Patients frequently ask if these procedures work and how patients are responding post stem cell procedure. Being part of the Regenexx network of physicians, StemCell ARTS tracks the outcomes of all patients who undergo regenerative procedures with the office. With all Regenexx network affiliates following the same protocol, StemCell ARTS is able to provide outcome data of all patients who have received the same Regenexx procedures across the country.
What does this mean for patients? This means that, when patients ask if these procedures work, StemCell ARTS is able to provide them with data to answer that question. Take the infograph provided in the link, below. This data reflects all 124 patients, as of 2015, who have had stem cells performed to treat hand arthritis. Of the 124 patients, 93 were treated for hand joints, 26 for the wrist, 18 for other hand joints (such as the thumb), and greater than 60% of the patients suffered from severe arthritis. Prior to the stem cell procedures, patients were reporting an average of 5.6 pain level. Post stem cells, the pain level had decreased to an average of 2.9. This means that some pain levels were higher than the 2.9, others were lower. What patients should take from this data is that the average pain level for these 124 patient was cut nearly in half.
Think that stem cell treatment might be right for you? Come see the physicians at StemCell ARTS. They will provide a comprehensive exam and review any imaging. Once the examination is completed, the physicians at StemCell ARTS will provide you will a customized treatment plan that they feel will be most successful in treating each patients’ specific condition.