Stem cell therapy is often acknowledged as a treatment to be used in lieu of other types of procedures, such as surgery. However, it’s been noted that at times it may not be a situation that calls for an either/or choice. There are various types of surgeries that can benefit from the added utilization of stem cells. This includes surgical procedures use to repair a torn meniscus.
The meniscus, which is located in the knee region, is a half-moon shaped piece of cartilage. It sits between the weight bearing joint surfaces of the femur and the tibia. In essence, it’s a padded shock absorber that allows us to walk, run, jump, and move our legs without feeling any pain in that joint. In a normally functioning knee, there are two healthy menisci. One, which is the lateral meniscus, is located on the outside region, while t the medial meniscus is on the inside area.
When your meniscus is torn this triangular, cross section of cartilage, which is attached to the lining of the knee joint along its periphery, becomes ineffective as bone starts to hit bone. This can cause a great deal of pain, making movement difficult if not impossible.
It’s been found that stem cells can benefit a patient who has had their torn meniscus repaired. The use of mesenchymal stem cells has been shown to help in the healing process associated with meniscus surgery. This is important due to the fact that the surgery alone has for years resulted in a failure rate of 20% to 24%.
Arthroscopy procedures are used to fix what is a common injury. The surgery is used to either repair the cartilage or in the partial excision of meniscal tears. There are over one million such procedures performed in the U.S. every year.
There are also recent studies showing stem cells for meniscal repair without surgery. Bone marrow stem cell therapy and amniotic stem cell therapy are being used to help with knee pain associated with meniscal tears anf often help facilitate repair.
What Stem Cells Can Do
When used in situations involving the meniscus the injection of mesenchymal stem cells helps to promote tissue growth and reduce inflammation. According to an article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, patients who have been observed in controlled studies have enjoyed overall improvement in the condition of their knee joint.
During a controlled study of sixty patients between the ages of sixteen and sixty who underwent a partial meniscectomy, the patients were divided into three groups. One group received an injection of 50 million human mesenchymal stem cells, another received an injection of 150 million stem cells, and the third, which was the control group, received no injection. Improvement was noted in those receiving the injections.
Mesenchymal stem cells are powerful agents due to the fact that they are multi-potent stromal cells of mesodermal origin. That means that they are connective tissue cells that can differentiate into a range of cell types. These types include articular cartilage and meniscal tissue. They act as anti-inflammatories and they do not appear to create adverse immune results.
Overall, surgery for a torn meniscus is fairly noninvasive. However, patients may first want to try injection therapy using mesenchymal stem cells. If the results prove to be disappointing, then an arthroscopic procedure supplemented by the injection of mesenchymal stem cells may offer the patient a positive result, allowing them to enjoy full physical activity again.