Will stem cell therapy help with arthritis?

Patients considering stem cell therapy for arthritis always ask if the therapy is safe and effective. Most stem cell therapy using adult stem cells is considered safe because the stem cells are collected from the patient, minimizing the risk of an unwanted reaction. The most common side effects are temporary swelling and minor discomfort.

Many physicians are already utilizing stem cells to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis. But what are stem cells? Scientists define stem cells as cells that can both self-renew and differentiate. In the self-renewal phase, stem cells divide and duplicate themselves. In the differentiating phase, stem cells develop into different types of cells.

The most common type of stem cells used in therapy are mesenchymal stem cells. Sometimes called adult stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to develop into musculoskeletal cells, such as fat, bone, or cartilage cells. Many researchers believe mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to repair and replace cartilage as well as other tissue damaged by arthritis. Mesenchymal stem cells are usually collected from the patient’s fat tissue, blood, or bone marrow.

Researchers believe that when applied to an arthritic joint, stem cells might:



  • Develop into needed cartilage cells.
  • Suppress the inflammation that exacerbates arthritis
  • Release proteins (cytokines) that slow down cartilage degeneration and/or decrease pain.

Many physicians combine the use of stem cells with platelet rich plasma (PRP). PRP is derived from a sample of the patient’s blood. In the body, platelets secrete substances called growth factors and other proteins that regulate cell division, stimulate tissue regeneration, and promote healing. Like stem cell therapy, PRP therapy is sometimes used alone with the hopes of healing an arthritic joint. Physicians who use PRP and stem cells together think that the PRP can help maximize the healing effects of stem cells. We are one of the select few neurosurgery practices doing this type of treatment.

Stem cell therapy can vary depending on the doctor performing it. Contact The Spine Center today to learn more about our customized stem cell therapy.