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Tag Archive: pain treatments with stem cells

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.

 

Why is Amniotic Tissue Great for Regenerative Medicine?

Regenerative medicine is a relatively new and rapidly evolving field in the treatment of pain management, chronic disease, and injuries previously treatable with only surgery. Stem cell therapy has gained the attention of the scientific community over the past few decades, first with investigational research using embryonic stem cells and now with research focusing on amniotic tissue and amniotic fluid. The stem cells harvested from amniotic derived media are multipotent and able to differentiate themselves into a variety of tissue types. They are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through cell division and the potential to treat many previously untreatable conditions.

The Amniotic Membrane

The majority of research focuses on amniotic fluid and the stem cells that are harvested from this fluid. We must not forget about the stem cell rich amniotic membrane as well. The human amniotic membrane is made up of two types of stem cells: human amnion mesenchymal stromal cells and human amnion epithelial cells. Both of these types of cells display the same properties. When studied in vitro, they differentiate into mesodermal lineages.

The human amniotic membrane has also been used in plastic surgery for the treatment of wounds and corneal problems and in ophthalmology. In recent studies using human amniotic membranes, the tissue patch was successful in helping heal major leg wounds on a dog and to reduce scar adhesion and fibrosis at the site of surgery.

Interventional Pain Management

Human amniotic membranes are also at the forefront of interventional pain management. Using amniotic tissue to treat pain management is actually treating the root cause and not the symptoms, as most other treatments do. Studies concentrating on pain management therapy are investigating the role of amniotic tissue in the healing of tissue damage and inflammation.

One of the more successful studies involved injections of amniotic epithelial cells into an equine digital flexor tendon defect. The result was the growth of new collagen fibers to aid in the repair of that area. The stem cells acted as an activator to the injured or defective area so that growth factors are released and trigger collagen production, aiding in the healing process. Other studies have concentrated on injections of amniotic epithelial cells into the defective Achilles tendon of a sheep. The result was promotion of structural and mechanical recoveries during the early phase of healing.

Future Applications

The primary challenge right now is establishing an efficient method to generate amniotic cell cultures, eliminating the need for refrigeration and centrifugation of fresh samples. This would allow for a continuous supply of clonal lines from amniocentesis samples and birth harvests. Communication is another issue that amniotic derived tissue can solve. In studies where bone marrow derived stem cells were used to attempt to differentiate into another form of cell type, the tissue had to be guided to attempt this differentiation. With human amniotic cells, the communication between host cells and the grafts are pivotal in creating the healing process for damaged tissues.

One future application is using amniotic stem cells to treat babies with congenital heart defects. Although this research is still in the very early phases, it has the potential to treat thousands of babies who are born each year suffering from congenital heart defects. By treating this type of defect, the child would avoid multiple heart operations and the strong possibility of a transplant before the age of one. Research teams are looking at replacing the damaged cells or generating new tissue by augmenting the damaged heart. Researchers understand that the baby’s heart cells are functioning but the heart muscle developed abnormally for reasons unknown.

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