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Author Archive: aenriquez

Who Can Benefit from Regenerative Medicine?

Regenerative medicine is not new, in recent years, it has advanced incredibly and there are techniques which enable your own body to become a resource for the healing process. This means that there is relief from pain and it can help overcome disabilities. In fact, it may help a great many people to recover from various serious health conditions.

Benefit from Regenerative Medicine

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nerve damage
  • Degenerative discs
  • Facet joint disease

 

Although regenerative medicine is still thought of as a relatively new field, it has already been proven to offer pain relief by accelerating the body’s healing process. It has a clear advantage over more common treatments in that it is using your own body cells to act as the nucleus for the treatment. By doing so, it lessens the chances of rejection as this is a common problem when introducing objects or cells that are alien to the body.

 

Regenerative medicine is almost certainly going to be on the front line for anti-aging treatments and the future is very exciting for this breakthrough in medical science. For now, it has proven to be extremely valuable in repairing and rebuilding damaged cartilage or bone.

 

How long before I become active again?

 

For anyone who is hoping to have this treatment, recovery will depend on the type and extensiveness of the damage but in general a 4 to 6-week recovery is to be expected.  The fact that this is a minimally invasive treatment and that it uses your own cells to help rebuild tissue – it aids a super- fast recovery and with outstanding results.

 

Is it painful?

 

Some soreness is likely after the operation but during the process, the area will be numbed. Once mobility returns and stiffness disappears then, all thoughts of discomfort during or immediately after the operation will quickly become forgotten. Expert medical professionals will have a pain management plan in place, but the recovery process is fairly quick anyway.

Do you Have Post-Laminectomy Syndrome? Stem Cells Treatments May Help

Post-Laminectomy Syndrome

If you are experiencing back pain following laminectomy surgery, you must seek medical help to ascertain what may have happened. Of course, it can take time for the body to heal after surgery and so, in these cases, it may just be discomfort as the body is healing. But, some do develop further pain following surgery which may be because the surgery was unnecessary, or, the desired result was not achieved. Most people do not have post laminectomy syndrome but, it is worth asking the question. So that the doctor can give you the best advice, do keep a note of where the pain is experienced. For example, are you experiencing pain in the back still or, do you now have leg pain?

 

Potential Causes

 

It may be that small fragments of the disc are still in place and this may be the cause of any irritation.

There may be a build of scar tissue, the nerve root could be compressed or even, disc herniation. Other causes include joint hypermobility or even, facet joint issues. There could even be systemic reasons, and these include autoimmune disorders or even diabetes.

 

Most commonly, people tend to experience back and leg pain afterward. This can be sufficient enough to limit or restrict you on a day to day basis and is likely to impact sleep patterns too. If the pain is considerable, then it can affect all areas of life and impact on an emotional level too.

 

Visit your doctor to see whether the tenderness at the site of the surgery is apparent. The doctor will provide an examination and, notice how you are walking and check your posture generally. There may even be increased pain following surgery due to sleep problems, or where there are feelings of anxiousness, depression and, even smoking could even be a trigger. There is certainly a known link between back pain and cigarette smoking.

 

Axial spinal pain is not uncommon, this may be attributed to abnormalities around the spinal column, perhaps the infection or bleeding through surgical complications. There could also be a neurologic pain, expressed by cold or heat because of injuries to the nerves.

 

Pain relief

 

Every person experiences pain differently following this type of surgery and so, pain relief will be treated on an individual level. Pain medication will be prescribed depending on the level of pain, but, you may be prescribed morphine-based medication. Due to the addictive nature of such pain relief, you will be monitored to ensure no dependency on them.

Treatment

 

Following observation and diagnosis, you may be prescribed physical therapy as this will help with core strength and movement too. A TENS unit electrical stimulation treatment may be offered, and this works well for pain relief. There are many options for consideration, but your doctor will guide you. Epidural nerve blocks, radiofrequency treatments, and even platelet-rich plasma therapy might be perfect for you. Your doctor will also look at the potential for stem cell therapy as this can be useful if you have Post-Laminectomy Syndrome. Stem cells help to regenerate and boost healing for cells at the damaged site and this means, your back can be restored to good health.

How Exercise Can Help Combat Foot Arthritis?

 Foot Arthritis

Have you been struggling to walk in late? Have you experienced aches and pains in the ankle or foot? If yes, you may have foot arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one type of arthritis caused by wear and tear to the joint. You may find that the joint starts to swell and in time, there may be some deformity. Arthritis is an umbrella term for one hundred or more diseases which affects the joints. Translated, arthritis simply means joint inflammation although, for many people, the word arthritis incites fear as these conditions have the potential to impact life on many levels.

 

Unfortunately, arthritis can be extremely painful, especially when affecting weight-bearing joints. The bones begin to grate against each other and this leads to the soft tissues of the joints also breaking down. Osteoarthritis is often associated with age. It’s certainly the most common of the arthritic conditions and is a degenerative disease.

 

Taking control of osteoarthritis.

 

Although seeking medical advice is paramount, there is much that can be done to keep osteoarthritis at bay. This includes exercising the joints to keep mobility. It is important to be gentle and to only exercise as much as you can without feeling pain. The joint may feel stiff and inflexible but, do this several times a day at least. Any movement is better than none. It is so important to retain as much flexibility as is possible. Yoga as an exercise system can ensure flexibility of the whole body and works well to combat arthritis generally and it will certainly help alleviate the potential for future joint pain.

 

The following are specific exercises to help offset the potential for foot arthritis and these include:

 

  • Toe pull – place an elastic band around all the toes and then, working against the resistance of the band, spread your toes wide. Repeat this up to 10 times.
  • Toe curl – If you have small circular objects or, marbles, spend some time trying to pick the marbles up using your toes only.
  • Achilles stretch – Standing up, place your palms flat on the wall and then, lean towards the wall. Place one foot back and one forward. Both heels should be on the floor and this stretches the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. Repeat three times.
  • Ankle alphabet – Sitting in a chair, place both feet flat on the floor. Lift the foot with arthritis from the floor and with your foot extended, try to slowly trace all the letters of the alphabet. Repeat this on the other foot too even if there is no sign of arthritis.

 

Look after your feet.

 

When you have osteoarthritis, comfort will suddenly mean everything. You must look for shoes that provide support and that fit properly.

 

  • Choose rubber soles for extra cushioning
  • Make sure the shoe is flexible
  • Ensure that the fit is correct
  • Avoid slip-on shoes

 

On a day to day basis, there is much that you can do to stop osteoarthritis from becoming worse. But, it is important to have a medical assessment to ensure that the condition is monitored. Arthritis can be a progressive condition and pain management is important as well as treatment to prevent it from becoming worse. Physical therapy may be useful to work alongside your exercise regime and you can also use arch supports or pads to help support your feet when walking.

 

There are many different types of medical treatments available and this will be discussed in full when you have your doctor’s appointment. It is worth considering stem cell therapy if offered as it has been providing excellent results for arthritic joints. Degenerative diseases now tend to heal much quicker and stem cell therapy promotes natural healing because it promotes the repair of tissues within the joints, thereby increasing mobility and flexibility.

Coping with Painful Elbow Arthritis

Painful Elbow Arthritis

Elbow arthritis is not as common as arthritis that affects other joints. The hands, hips, and knees tend to suffer more but the disease is still very painful in this area of the body and in some ways, can be more damaging to everyday functions, especially if both elbows are attacked.

Three types of arthritis may affect the elbow.

• Osteoarthritis
• Rheumatoid
• Post-traumatic

Osteoarthritis is relatively uncommon in the elbow joints but can cause much in the way of misery as it tends to make straightening out the joint very painful. Often linked to sports or heavy repetitive labor, it has a simple wear and tears effect on the joint. It would normally only be active in the one elbow that had the most strain.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the main culprit when it comes to elbow arthritis and can be extremely painful. It also can be even worse because it can affect both elbows at the same time, making normal daily activities awkward and painful. There is usually swelling with rheumatoid arthritis and this increases the pressure on the joint. It has a far-reaching effect on daily life.

Post-traumatic arthritis is where some trauma has damaged the elbow in the past and arthritis has set in. A dislocation or a fracture can often lead to torn and damaged cartilage and painful arthritis can develop from that.

Most people tend to cope with elbow arthritis better than when the lower body joints have been attacked, this is because elbows are rarely weight-bearing and most activities do not require the complete range of movement. Carrying a dinner plate from the kitchen to another room can be done with a locked elbow but if walking, the leg joint still needs to bear the full weight. That said, it is important to not detract from the pain and anxiety elbow arthritis can cause.

So, what can be done to help or cure elbow arthritis?

The first port of call in the treatment of any form of arthritis will be medication to ease the swelling and to block some of the pain. You may be experiencing some of the symptoms listed below:
• Locking of the elbow joint
• Swelling around the joint
• A grinding sensation when straightening the elbow out
• An inability to gain the full range of movements

Physical therapy will help to give back some movement and, steroid injections can ease the pain, but relief will not last long. If patients are not responding well to pain medication or treatment, surgery is often the next step. The removal of degenerated cartilage is often carried out, but a complete replacement of the joint is quite often the only option.

Stem cell therapy is now a very effective way of treating all degenerative diseases that affect joints. There are very few side effects with this kind of treatment as the body is basically being used to treat itself. Stem cells are taken from one part of the body and introduced to the damaged area. Stems cells promote healing growth and this treatment has been very successful in treating elbow arthritis.

This treatment is becoming more successful every year and may well be the way forward in the future of dealing with arthritis.

Postherpetic Neuralgia Pain Relief – The Options for Recovery

If you have shingles, it’s daunting to know that you may be one of the unlucky ones who develop a long-lasting nerve pain which occurs due to the varicella-zoster virus responsible for both shingles and chicken pox. If you do, know that it can take up to a year to recover fully and even longer for some people. The pain and discomfort are caused by inflammation of the nerves beneath the skin and postherpetic neuralgia pain relief will play an important role in recovery, enabling you to live as normal a life as is possible.  This complication occurs when the nerve fibers are damaged and so, the messages from your skin to the brain become confused and therefore pain can be ongoing, chronic and at times, excruciating.

Postherpetic Neuralgia Pain TreatmentSymptoms

Although it is unclear as to why some shingles sufferers develop postherpetic neuralgia, the symptoms are certainly unpleasant as pain may be continuous. This is difficult to deal with and usually affects the areas of the body where shingles first occurred, usually on one side of the body in the trunk area but, it can also occur on the face. Symptoms include itching which may seem unbearable at times but also, a burning, stabbing pain similar to an electric shock. Even the lightest of touches can feel painful as your skin becomes ultra-sensitive. Those who are over 60-years of age appear to be particularly vulnerable.

 

Pain Relief

Pain relief is of the utmost importance. It’s certainly easy to feel stressed and weakened by the ongoing pain. Some people also experience feelings of depression. Unfortunately, the usual ‘over the counter’ pain medications will not be strong enough and where necessary, your doctor can prescribe amitriptyline or nortriptyline which will help to target any feelings of depression but, some anti-depressants are also useful for pain relief. Lidocaine or capsaicin skin patches may alleviate any pain experienced for up to 3 months and this will at least afford you some relief from the ongoing pain. If this is not strong enough, there is the potential for opioid drugs but of course, these will only be prescribed where absolutely necessary as there are concerns as to their addictive nature. As an alternative, electrical nerve stimulators could be used but this is a treatment that would be discussed with you if the pain is very severe.

 

Stem Cells as a Potential Solution

As there is no definitive cure for postherpetic neuralgia, it’s wise to consider all options. Stem cells have been used in treatments for a great many years, but these treatments have really come to the fore in recent years.  For postherpetic neuralgia, this is timely as it is traditionally very difficult to treat as it is akin to neuropathic pain. Stem cells, as primitive cells can develop into the cells needed to help regeneration. As we grow older, it is difficult to attract sufficient stem cells to the body parts that needs it, and this is why the cells are injected directly into the area that needs it and they have the potential to actually replace those damaged nerve cells. The results are highly encouraging.

 

Regenerative Healing for Ankle Arthritis with Stem Cell Therapy

Rheumatoid arthritis painPeople often don’t think about arthritis affecting the ankle joints but, if you have experienced it, you will know that it is extremely painful. As a weight-bearing joint, it makes sense that movement will be restricted. The joint will become stiff, swollen and, pain may be intense. Arthritis of any joint is unpleasant, to say the least, but when it affects the weight-bearing joints, it impacts life greatly. Diagnosis is paramount as there are many different types of arthritis. Two of the most common arthritic conditions are detailed below:

  • Osteoarthritis – often known as the wear and tear arthritis as it breaks down cartilage and this causes the bones to grate against each other. It is an unpleasant sensation and leads to stiffness and a loss of movement. Although in the foot region, it is the big toe most commonly affected, it can also affect the ankle joint.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – this is an auto-immune disease where the immune system attacks the synovium, which is the membrane that lines the joints. This leads to pain, inflammation, and damage to the joint. It’s a debilitating disease and ankle arthritis is common.

 

The Effect on Life

Arthritis has a far-reaching effect. Although the level of pain will vary, the stiffness of the joints, reduced mobility and a loss of independence is enough to make anyone feel fearful. Feelings of isolation, emotional turmoil and even depression could occur. Anyone who is awaiting a diagnosis or treatment, for an arthritic condition is likely to need a great deal of support. In the main, through treatment and pain management, arthritis is controllable and with regenerative treatments such as stem cells, there’s a great deal of hope that the degenerative aspect will slow or reduced.

 

Self-help

Prevention is always a better option than cure and if you are just experiencing ankle arthritis joint pain, consider changing footwear so that they offer more support. Some shoes, high-heels or those that do not protect the heel can cause the foot to roll inwards which will not help the ankle at all. Try to find shoes with built-in shock absorption. Keep your ankles as flexible as is possible. Rotate the ankle joints and bend and flex the feet. Be gentle while you are doing this. The idea is to sustain as much flexibility as is possible.

Medication

It’s important to treat pain and the goal will be to slow down bone loss, reduce inflammation and prevent damage to the joint. Medication prescribed will vary of course depending on the type of arthritis that is diagnosed.

  • Non-steroidal drugs to reduce inflammation. These are useful for pain management
  • Corticosteroids – these act quickly and work to control inflammation.
  • Analgesics – these are purely for pain relief
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) – these modify the disease and work at a much slower rate than the other medications.
  • Osteoporosis medication – will slow down the loss of bone and can help build new bone.

 

Treatment

There are many options for treatment, but this will depend on the individual and the severity of the symptoms. If an early diagnosis is given, arthroscopic surgery removes unwanted tissue and outgrowths from the bone. In some (rare) situations, joint replacement surgery may be necessary. For many people, there’s a more viable option, that of stem cell therapy. It’s an efficient streamlined process that uses the person’s own cells and these are injected into the joint.

There are many benefits to using stem cells as they produce anti-inflammatory agents which can greatly help the joint. They also help lubricate the joint through the secretion of hyaluronic acid and can help repair and regenerate the ankle too So, for anyone worrying about ankle arthritis, seek medical advice but remain open to the potential for stem cell therapy.

Sciatic Pain Treatment – Signs of Underlying Medical Concerns

Sciatic Pain TreatmentIf you suffer from sciatica, you will know just how intense the pain is. It infiltrates into all areas of life because the movement is restricted and even, sitting down for long periods can be excruciating. Unfortunately, it can take up to 6-weeks for improvement to be noted and medical treatment may be necessary during that time. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and it has various nerve roots that branch out from the spine which combines and make up the sciatic nerve. Pain occurs when compression of the nerve occurs at the point of origin.

Although people tend to think of sciatica as being a stand-alone condition, it is often a symptom of other underlying medical conditions and so, seeking medical advice is paramount.

 

These other conditions include:

  • Lumber herniated disc – often called ruptured disc, protruding discs or slipped disc. It occurs when the inner material of the disc herniates through the outer layer and this creates a pinching/irritation of the nerve.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis – this is related to the natural aging process of the spine and commonly affects those over the age of 60. It often coincides with arthritis of the spine which is also a contributing factor for sciatica. There is a narrowing of the spinal canal which may occur through a bulging disc, enlarged facet joints or, soft tissue overgrowth.
  • Degenerative disc disease – again, this occurs with age and is generally diagnosed when inflammatory proteins from within are exposed. These irritate the nerve root.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction – when this joint becomes irritated, it can also aggravate the L5 nerve. This nerve which is located on the top of the sacroiliac joint will cause pain similar to sciatica and certainly, leg pain will occur.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis – where a small stress fracture occurs, one vertebrae may slip onto another and the nerve is pinched leading to sciatic pain.

The symptoms of sciatica are intense. Pain radiates down the leg, potentially affecting the foot and the toes. There may be a burning or tingling session or even a sense of numbness. Weakness in the leg may also make it difficult to move. There may be a consistent pain in one buttock and, generally, the pain of sciatica will increase when in a seated position.

Sciatica rarely occurs before the person is 20-years of age and, typically develops when someone is in their 40’s or 50’s. It is a common condition and potentially, affects over 40% of the population. This is an injury that does not just occur but rather develops and this is why medical advice is important to discover any underlying issues.

 

Additional reasons as to why sciatica occurs include:

  • Muscle strain – where there is inflammation or muscle spasm this can increase pressure to the nerve root.
  • Scar tissue – where scar tissue compresses a lumbar nerve root, the symptoms of sciatica can be experienced
  • Pregnancy – due to weight gain, hormonal changes and changes to the center of gravity, this can also lead to sciatica being experienced.

 

Sciatica Pain Treatment

In the main, treatment will include rest and applying hot or cold compresses along with anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen. Following a medical diagnosis, anti-seizure medications or muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms. To aid recovery, you may be offered physical therapy which helps to strengthen the muscles of the back and improves posture. Flexibility will also be reviewed. If the pain is incredibly intense, you may be offered steroid injections to help reduce consistent pain but, these do not last for long periods.

 

Sometimes, surgery is required, and this could be to remove any bone spurs or even parts of any herniated disc so to avoid compression of the sciatic nerve. Surgery will require rest and recuperation over a period thereafter. Stem cell treatments offer much for sciatic nerve recovery and these cells when injected into the relevant place have been shown to heal damage to tissue and it does this by creating new healthy cells. Although typically, sciatic pain treatment can be self-managed, there are options where health concerns require medical assistance.

 

Wear and Tear – How Osteoarthritis Affects the Hip Joints

Hip joints stiff and creaking? Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that can affect anyone, but it is certainly most common in those who are over the age of 45 years, often affecting those joints which are impacted by wear and tear. Millions of people are affected by this condition across the globe and as a ball and socket joint, the hips usually have an excellent range of movement, but osteoarthritis is painful and limiting. It is a serious health condition as osteoarthritis breaks down the rubbery cartilage tissue (made from mainly proteins and water) which covers the ends of the bones. Once cartilage is damaged, the body is unable to make more. The joint itself is surrounded by a fibrous sleeve called the capsule and the capsule lining is called the synovium and it is this that produces the synovial fluid which lubricates and nourishes the actual joint.

 

Hip joint painThe hips are weight-bearing joints. Degeneration of the joint may cause the person to limp, with pain radiating down the body, often, losing weight may help to take some stress away from the joint but this will not be the cause of the pain. Osteoarthritis in the hip joint is about one third as common as arthritis in the knees. It can be aggravated by over-use even in the home, walking upstairs as a prime example. Stiffness and accompanying pain are the first symptoms but, during advanced stages, deformities to the joint can even result in the legs becoming different lengths.

 

Pain in the hip joint does not always mean osteoarthritis, it could be inflamed or a strained tendon perhaps, through overdoing exercise. In this case, pain usually dissipates in a day or two. Pain can occur in the groin, in the front of the thigh muscle and even in the knee joint. Sometimes, there is a pain in the buttocks too. If the pain worsens, or, where there has been trauma to the hip by way of a fall, then, medical advice should be sought.

 

Other hip joint conditions include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Paget’s disease
  • Hip fractures

There are many reasons as to why the pain could occur. The joints may not have formed correctly when younger, there could be genetic issues in the cartilage. Pain can manifest in different locations and be either sharp or a dull ache.

Symptoms include:

  • Stiffness when first out of bed
  • Stiffness when sitting for long periods of time
  • Swelling, tenderness or pain in the hip joint
  • Grating feeling or sound in the hip
  • Restricted movement

 

Correct diagnosis is important. An x-ray is usually taken which may show the narrowing of the joint. A physical examination is likely. In the early stages, painkillers may help – paracetamol or, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen. Physical therapy can be extremely useful in keeping mobility in the hip, exercises can stretch and strengthen as well as stabilizing. A CT scan or MRI scan may be requested for more in-depth analysis. Steroid injections may help if the hip joint is caused by inflammation and these are often given with anesthetic. Hip replacement surgery was often the outcome and when the hip bone was fractured.

Stem cell treatments can be highly useful for arthritic hip joints and as they are primitive cells already present in the body, they can help to form the necessary cells when added into the painful and damaged area. Once extracted from fat deposits or from bone marrow, they are less likely to be rejected and can even increase regeneration of the joint. Importantly, stem cell treatments are without known side-effects and can also prevent further damage of the hip joint. When hip joints are painful and restricting movement, it is best to seek professional advice.

 

The Potential to Battle Lyme Disease Caused Through Ticks

lyme diseaseLyme disease is not something that most people expect to get but for those with a love of nature and the great outdoors, it can be easily transmitted following a bite from a tick. It is prevalent in wooded areas and anyone who spends a great deal of time outside – children or those adults who love hiking etc. are all at risk and therefore, observation is key. The best defense is through covering up. It’s less easy for ticks to penetrate the skin when long trousers are worn, and long-sleeved tops can help prevent the tick from accessing bare skin. Where possible, stick to designated trails, avoiding walking through areas with long grass or bushes. It can help to use insect repellents, spraying onto clothes which should deter ticks but, they can cling to clothes for long periods of time so it’s best to double-check after being outside.  Time is of the essence when it comes to removing ticks and as they are so small, it is important to do a thorough search. If a tick is embedded, remove carefully with tweezers ensuring the whole tick is removed.  Apply antiseptic directly to the bite afterward.

In the US, approximately 30,000 cases are reported but this may not be the extent of the problem and it is anticipated that up to 329,000 people could be affected by Lyme disease each year. Transmitted via black-legged or deer ticks, the bacteria are called Borrelia burgdorferi and borrelia mayonii. For the Lyme disease to occur, an infected tick must bite, and the bacteria pass through the skin into the bloodstream. Vigilance is important because the tick would have to be attached for a prolonged period – between 36-48 hours and although you would think that the ticks would be obvious, these ticks are more noticeable when have been feeding and by then, with their swollen body’s, they are likely to have already passed the bacteria into the bloodstream. It can take a while for symptoms to manifest but, it’s best to seek medical advice as soon as is possible.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • A headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash

If it is not treated, complications can occur such as:

  • Facial palsy
  • Neuropathy
  • Lyme arthritis
  • Impaired memory
  • Heart rhythm issues

 

These symptoms can increase substantially causing arthritic pain and swelling, usually in the knees. There may be a severe headache and stiffness in the neck area. Heart palpitations may be experienced and muscle tone sagging with facial drooping. Later, inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord with shooting pains or tingling in the feet and hands or both.

Treatment in the early stages will usually ensure full recovery.

Stem cell therapy can be used to help with the stimulation of new cells and this can be useful to replace those that have been damaged or lost by the Lyme disease infection. Consider them the building blocks where they can help to regenerate. They can also prevent or reverse neurological damage and even, eliminate the bacteria.

Kelly Osbourne contracted a rare form of Lyme’s disease and even though the tick was removed, years later, following a long illness, she was finally diagnosed as having stage 111 neurological disease. After many different types of treatment and medication, she underwent stem cell therapy, “so my body could fight off and get rid of the disease on its own.” She did it for two weeks, and says she was experiencing emotions and feelings again.

Lyme disease has long-lasting implications on those who are infected. Even when the tick is removed quickly, the damage can be done. Prevention through observation and covering up is key but, if infected with Lyme disease, there is hope with stem cell therapy in that it can help with the healing process.

Do Amniotic Stem Cells Work?

amniotic fluid stem cells pros and cons Amniotic stem cells are a mixture of stem cells that can be extracted from the amniotic fluid and amniotic membrane after a pregnant woman has delivered her baby. The amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus during development in the uterus and it is contained by the amniotic membrane.

Since the amniotic fluid and amniotic membrane are collected after the baby is delivered, as they have usually been discarded in the past, there is no danger to the child when doing so. Therefore, the use of stem cells derived from amniotic tissues is considered to lack the ethical problems associated with the use of stem cells derived from embryos collected after induced abortions.

Stem cells that are derived from tissues such as the amniotic fluid and amniotic membrane, as well as those from the bone marrow, are used in medicine for the following reasons:

  • To help stimulate proteins to reduce the inflammatory process in certain conditions that lead to pain, tissue damage, and disability.
  • Differentiating and developing into tissues of the body such as skin, muscle, cartilage, bone, nerve, and heart and kidney tissue to repair areas damaged by diseases and injuries.

Advantages and disadvantages of amniotic stem cells

Amniotic stem cell pros and cons need to be looked at in order to decide whether using such tissue has benefits that outweigh any risks associated with its administration.

Advantages:

  • The amniotic fluid contains an abundance of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that stem from the fetus.
  • These MSCs have a higher expansion potential than the ones derived from the bone marrow which means that more new tissue cells can be derived from the amniotic fluid.
  • These stem cells have an enhanced stability and plasticity compared to adult stem cells allowing them to develop into healthier cells needed for tissue repair.
  • Amniotic stem cells can be used to reconstruct birth defects such as diaphragmatic hernias in children, as well as repairing a premature amniotic membrane rupture during pregnancy.
  • There’s no risk of the patient rejecting the stem cells.
  • The amniotic stem cells contain hyaluronic acid that helps to lubricate the cartilage around joints.

Disadvantages:

  • Amniotic fluid doesn’t contain a lot of embryonic stem cells.
  • If there are pathologies that need to be treated while the mother is still pregnant with the fetus, then an amniocentesis needs to be performed. This is a technique where a needle is inserted into the uterus through the amniotic membrane and amniotic fluid is then collected. This does carry a small risk of causing a spontaneous miscarriage or premature labor.

Efficacy

In one literature review study regarding the most recent progress in stem cell therapies and indications in the specialty of orthopedics, the following observations were made:1

  • Stem cell therapy has been successfully used for managing major orthopedic issues such as bone-joint injuries, ligament-tendon injuries, osteoarthritis-cartilage defects, and femoral head osteonecrosis.
  • Stem cells have been used in bone tissue engineering and were combined with scaffolds to provide better and faster tissue healing.
  • A recommendation was made that more and efficient studies would need to be conducted to evaluate the safety of stem cells.

With that being said, the general consensus looking at patient outcomes is that stem cell therapy is a very safe and effective form of treatment.

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