Melbourne Stem Cell Centre prides itself at being at the forefront of regenerative medicine development we also firmly believe in our approach to osteoarthritis management. This being to maximise conservative and minimally invasive therapies; joint preservation rather than joint replacement.
Osteoarthritis is the 4th leading cause of disability across the world. Recognising this, the primary objective for any management strategy is to improve pain and function and thus improve quality of life. Minimally interventional techniques including exercise, biomechanical adjustment, weight management and simple analgesics remain important conservative management tools with potential to significantly influence both patient pain and function.
Traditional conservative management of osteoarthritis has focused on pain control. Incorrect assumptions that osteoarthritis was an unalterable and progressive degenerative condition had meant that we became focused on pain management rather than disease prevention or modification. Recent improved understanding of the process that leads to joint destruction means that regenerative therapies such as stem cells have a real place in the conservative treatment algorithm – rather than pain control we are proactively seeking to slow or prevent progression and therefore prevent/delay later major surgical intervention.
The decision to explore regenerative therapies such as stem cells depends upon what you are trying to achieve. If you are wanting only to improve pain and reduce disability then, whilst stem cells have been shown to effectively improve pain and function, less interventional methods should be explored first. If you’re primary objective is to delay or prevent later need to joint replacement surgery then regenerative techniques such as stem cells now arguable have a place in an active management plan.
In the past we have been confined to a treatment algorithm of pain control until continued degeneration necessitates surgical joint replacement, regenerative medicine advancements now mean that our joints may no longer need to look or feel beyond our age.
In the past we could only but endure our arthritic pain, managing it with pain control until succumbing to our inevitable decline and investing heavily in a surgical join replacement. With regenerative medicine, however, these days are numbered.