Osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease, is the breakdown of cartilage in the joint and is a very common condition, especially as we age. It’s the result of wear and tear on our joints and can result in inflammation, stiffness and pain.

There are some factors that may increase the speed at which the joint develops osteoarthritis such as overuse, an injury to the joint, previous surgeries, obesity and other health issues. The cartilage in the joint breaks down through a combination of time and any one of these factors. The severity of the arthritis will determine how much intervention may be required to ease pain.

Treatment Options

Osteoarthritis is first treated with over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. Physical therapy can also be helpful to strengthen the weakened joint and improve range of motion. Short-term relief may also be found through cortisone shots for pain and/or gel injections that lubricate and increase the shock absorption of the joint.

When these conservative measures are no longer helpful, surgical intervention through a joint replacement may seem like your only option. However, advancements in regenerative therapies are providing a new hope for many patients struggling with arthritis pain and can delay or possibly even prevent the need for a joint replacement. These newer treatments use biologic elements such as your own adult stem cells and platelets to ease the pain. In many cases, they may regenerate lost cartilage and strengthen the joint.

Regenerative medicine procedures activate your body’s own stem cells to encourage healing and speed repair for bone, muscle, joint, soft tissue and nerve injuries. With this treatment, doctors can concentrate a sample of your stem cells taken from your bone marrow and fat tissue. We all carry these stem cells that act as the body’s “repairmen.” With arthritis, the body’s ability to heal may have diminished. When stem cells are concentrated and injected into a joint with arthritis, it can stimulate a new healing response that will ease the pain and may also stimulate the growth of new cartilage in that area.

Because joint replacements do not last forever, trying these more conservative biologic options first may give patients an opportunity to delay or completely avoid major surgery.

Have questions about musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, disorders and injuries? Send your questions to Orthopedic Specialist Melissa Tabor, DO.

Dr. Tabor is an orthopedic specialist and medical director of Regen Orthopedics. For more information or  to make an appointment call 844-786-2355.