Stem Cell Therapy: What Is It and What Is It For?
There about 37.2 trillion cells in our bodies. With each type, they have their own distinct function in order to keep our bodies healthy. Red blood cells carry oxygen around our bodies while white blood cells protect our bodies from infectious diseases and other foreign invaders. When you lose a lot of these cells, stem cells are used to replace the lost and damaged cells.
Since the 1970s, stem cell therapy has been done by numerous people who need to treat certain illnesses in their blood and in their immune system. Because of the properties of the blood stem cells, bone marrow transplant procedures are now being done when there is a need to replace a patient’s diseased blood system for life.
What Are Stem Cells?
Imagine a blank canvas and you get to paint it with whatever image you like. The same goes for stem cells. Stem cells are raw materials which, under the right conditions in the body, will turn into daughter cells. These daughter cells will either become new stem cells or specialized cells. Specialized cells have a more specific function such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells, and even bone cells.
Stem Cell Therapy is usually administered to treat:
- Skin diseases
- Injuries to the eyes and bones
- Brain and spinal cord injury
Sources of Stem Cells
- Adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are found in small quantities in an adult’s tissues such as the bone marrow and adipose tissues (fat).
- Embryonic stem cells. These stem cells come from an embryo, also known as a blastocyst, that is three to five days old. Embryonic stem cells are used to regenerate and repair diseased tissues and organs.
- Perinatal stem cells. Perinatal stem cells can be found in amniotic fluid and in the umbilical cord blood. Amniotic fluid fills the sac that surrounds and protects a fetus that is developing in the uterus.
Stem Cell Therapy For Knees
Osteoarthritis causes a great amount of pain to a patient. It also happens to be one of the major causes of disability and missed work days. Usually, osteoarthritis can be relieved through anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and opioid pain medications. However, most patients experience progressive osteoarthritis. Eventually, they would have to undergo knee joint replacement surgery. Stem cell therapy for knees has the capability to decrease inflammation, stop the progression of the damaged joints, repair joint cartilage, and can possibly delay and/or avoid knee replacement surgeries.
For this type of therapy, doctors typically use adult stem cells because they have a reliable potential to differentiate cartilage, bone and even fat or soft tissues. Adult stem cells also has the ability to house the areas of inflammation. They can also modify a patient’s immune system.
Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy
- Can treat orthopedic injuries
- Able to treat cardiovascular diseases
- Able to help heal wounds and incisions (e.g collagen production)
- Can treat neurodegenerative diseases (e.g Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s)
- Can possibly help overcome “immune rejection” disorders including Diabetes and Autoimmune diseases
Stem Cell Transplant Procedure
The first step of the stem cell transplant procedure is called conditioning. During this step, the patient shall undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to damage and possibly destroy a patient’s bone marrow.
The stem cell transplant replaces the damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells. With the help of the stem cell transplant, your blood level count will return to normal in two to six weeks.
Stem Cell Therapy Side Effects
The patient may experience side effects right after the transplant which includes:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mouth and throat pain
- Bleeding and transfusions
- Interstitial pneumonitis and other lung problems
- Graft failure
The patient can experience these side effects later on after the transplant which includes:
- Organ damage
- New cancer
- Hormonal changes
A lot more people with chronic conditions are open to stem cell therapy. Which is why most doctors who specialize in pain management are now studying in order to provide this kind of treatment for them. Dr. Ronak Patel is a regenerative medicine doctor in New Jersey who has been trained and board-certified to conduct regenerative stem cell therapy.
Set an appointment with Dr. Ronak today! You may also reach him at (609) 269 4451.