Knee Arthritis, Heal Thyself? New Research Says Yes!

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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knee arthritis healing

Our alternative health counterparts have always believed that the body has the ability to heal itself. This concept was largely based on observation, but to many outside of the alternative health community it had the ring of fantasy fiction. However, with the discovery of stem cells living throughout the body, science has begun supporting the concept. A new study adds to that body of research, suggesting that even in late stage knee arthritis healing is possible. In fact, the ability of the joint to regenerate increases as the knee arthritis gets worse!

What is an Adult Stem Cell?

You’ve probably heard about embryonic stem cells, but most of the public doesn’t know that similar types of adult stem cells live in all of our tissues. These cells act as the repairmen of the body, fixing things that break or replacing worn out and degenerative cells as we age.

There are a few places where these cells are usually harvested for therapy, including the bone marrow and fat. In addition, unlike their embryonic cousins, the safety profile of these adult stem cells is generally greater, as they stop growing upon completion of the repair job. These unique cells are multi-talented; they can orchestrate a repair response in various ways, like a general contractor supervising a construction site.

Your Knee Has Stem Cells!

Most patients would be surprised to learn that their knee has stem cells. Their job is to maintain the cartilage, meniscus, and ligaments. For example, if you go for a long run, you may kill hundreds to thousands of cartilage cells. These cells need replacement, or running would quickly lead to arthritis with severe cartilage loss. Thus, natural knee arthritis healing takes place everyday.

As we age, the total number of adult stem cells in our tissues declines. Some of us lose more stem cells, some of us fewer. For some, our stem cell function remains robust until old age, and for others, it declines more quickly. The same holds true for the knee. Decreased stem cell count, trauma, and environmental evolvement within the knee as a result of genes, diet, and exercise are determining factors in the regenerative potential of the aging joint. The common belief has been that knee arthritis healing decreases as we age. However, new research suggests that the knee’s stem cells grow increasingly capable of repair as the joint grows more arthritic!

Can Knee Arthritis Heal? The New Research

The new study is complex, but it can be broken into comprehensible parts. Your body tags certain genes and modifies their function through a process called methylation. This makes sense as your genes are a fixed instruction set that cannot respond well to your changing environment. Just as a builder looks at an architect’s plans and has to make adjustments to manufacture the building itself, your body makes necessary modifications through methylation.

The study shows that cartilage cells in the arthritic knee were constantly tagged and changed as the disease progressed. Most surprisingly, in late stage arthritis, the body was improving certain gene pathways involved in repair and ramping up the stem cells in the joint. Amazingly, the body works harder and harder to repair the joint as the knee’s lifespan decreases!

The Implications of this Research

Science continues to support the more than century old ideas of chiropractors and naturopaths that the body can repair itself if the practitioner creates the proper environment to facilitate healing. In this case, the knee is using sophisticated genetic manipulation to enhance its ability to heal itself. Our job as physicians should not be to amputate the joint, but to set the environment to enhance that repair process (This is the main concept behind our Orthopedics 2.0 e-book, which is a free download at the bottom of this page!). Through changes in bio mechanics, nerve input, and stability, as well as augmentation of repair with advanced platelet and stem cell procedures, we can give the joint the helping hand it needs to further enhance repair.

The upshot? Chiropractors, naturopaths, and other alternative healers should rejoice that science is finally figuring out what their forebears knew in the 19th century. The body is an amazing machine using sophisticated means to heal itself, and sometimes all it needs is a little help!

Category: Knee, Latest News

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14 thoughts on “Knee Arthritis, Heal Thyself? New Research Says Yes!

  1. phil

    is there anything you can do prior to the procedure to increase your chances of success? diet, exercise, medicine, other…water, meditation??

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Phil,
      Yes, there are some things that can help. If blood sugar is an issue, getting it under control is very important as is avoiding steroid shots and oral steroids, talking to the doctor about your prescription meds as some types might have a negative effect on stem cells, and taking the Advanced Stem Cell Support Formula for a few weeks prior to the procedure are all helpful. It’s also really important to be very well hydrated for blood draw and bone marrow aspiration, and to do whatever keeps you healthy as an individual. http://www.regenexx.com/stem-cell-supplements/ http://www.regenexx.com/regenexx-advanced-stem-cell-support-formula/

  2. Dianne Riehl

    I have had Regennex done on both knees 6 months ago. The knee with moderate arthritis is 100% pain free. The knee with severe bone on bone arthritis is about 30% better. Taking flour and sugar out of my diet has helped too. There is research on diet healing cartilage as well (Dr Campbell 1970).
    I’m assuming that since cartilage can take up to 3 years to heal that my total healing on my bad knee could take that long?

    My husband had a knee replacement several years ago. When I saw how barbaric that procedure was (just like tonsils that they no longer remove), I decided to do extensive research.

    Regennex really works. This is the best thing I could have spent my money on. I went from being an avid hiker with 18 year old cartilage to almost a cripple with 70 year old cartilage in 2 years. It was all due to cortisone injections. It destroyed my cartilage overnight. Never mind hike, I couldn’t walk. Do your research. I am a believer in Regennex. I hope and pray to continue to see improvement.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Diane,
      Cortisone injections can be lethal to stem cells in the joint which are already struggling, thus situations like yours occur. Getting rid of flour and sugar is a great move. You should continue to see improvement. If not, you might consider just a Regenexx SCP (PRP) touch up, as it can “fertilize” the “seeds” (the stem cells).

  3. Jonathan

    Is there actual scientific research that stem cell therapy will permanently heal a torn ACL. I had ACL reconstruction 3 years ago (Patella Tendon Graft) and it is a horrible experience. I now have a partial ACL tear in my other knee and would rather not go through this again. How do Stem Cells provide the necessary scaffolding for the ACL to heal itself? Why do most Orthopedic Doctors think that Stem Cell Therapy is VooDoo medicine? Why has the FDA/Insurance companies not bought in to the new technology? Thank you in advance for your feedback.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Jonathan,
      Apologies, apparently the reply didn’t post for some reason. Your story is all too common. An ACL reconstruction permanently negatively alters the biomechanics of the knee because there is no way to put the “new ACL” in at the right angle and they are therefore put in at a steeper angle. More surprisingly to most, it also affects the biomechanics of the uninjured knee and makes it more prone to injury:https://regenexx.com/blog/acl-surgery-rehab-2/ This link will give you several pages of patient outcomes, before and after MRI’s, and our Paper published in the Journal of Pain Research:http://www.regenexx.com/?s=acl Regenexx ACL treats partial tears and full non-retracted tears. Because in full retracted tears the sheath is intact, no scaffolding is necessary.http://www.regenexx.com/regenexx-acl-repair-for-torn-anterior-cruciate-ligament/ Regenerative Interventional Orthopedics and Orthopedics approach injury from two completely different Paradigms but the shift towards percutaneous treatment is already in progress. While back in 2000 very few things were treated through a needle, injection therapies now account for around 20%, and by 2030, it will flip entirely and Regenerative Interventional Orthopedics will treat approximately 80% of all Orthopedic Conditions. The FDA and insurance companies are separate issues. Health Insurance stil considers stem cell therapy “experimental”, despite the fact that there is more peer reviewed published research that stem cell procedures work than there are that the surgeries they replace work. This best explains the FDA issues: http://www.regenexx.com/your-own-cells-are-a-drug-you-may-lose-the-right-to-use/ and contains a link to tell the FDA how you feel about their position: http://www.regenexx.com/your-own-cells-are-a-drug-you-may-lose-the-right-to-use/

  4. Back surgery

    Based on what I read in your article about Knee Arthritis, Heal Thyself it helps me a lot to know about on how to heal it by my self. Thank you for posting your this article.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Back Surgery,
      Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Joanne Banos

    I just had a stem cell injection in my left severe arthritic hip. It had been 3 wks. And I have been told it can take some time before I start to see improvement. I notice that some days are much better then other days, and I am still in a lot of pain. I’m trying to think positive !!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Joanne,
      There’s actually quite a bit of research which shows that positive thinking improves health, so a great plan! Hips do respond more slowly than knees and it can take time to see improvement. Was this a Regenexx stem cell procedure?

  6. Jonathan

    Still no response!!!

  7. Jonathan

    Thank you so much for the information.

  8. Michael Allen

    I am facing the possibility of hip replacement surgery. A prospect which gives me significant pause. Have scientific ideas advanced significantly revently? Is surgery a viable option or is there a physical therapy option.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Michael,

      Without examining you, we can only offer general advice…
      There will always be situations in which hip replacement is necessary, but that is a small percentage of the surgeries done. Your significant pause is warranted as hip replacement is the amputation of the hip joint and the insertion of a metal and plastic prosthesis, and therefore should always be the last resort when all more conservative options have failed. In reference to physical therapy many people have found Egoscue, a particular type of physical therapy helpful. The most important thing is to determine what’s actually going on, as hip pain and dysfunction don’t necessarily originate in the hip – they can actually be coming from the back. To do this a specific type of extensive exam is needed, and you can get that type of exam at these locations: https://regenexx.com/find-a-physician/ If it’s determined that you are a good candidate to treat the issue with injections of your own stem cells and platelets and avoid the hip replacement, that would be wonderful news! If not, recent studies have shown that low back problems can both cause hip pain and if not treated prior to surgery can negatively affect hip replacement outcome. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/hip-replacement-back-pain/ and https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/hip-surgery/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/you-be-the-judge-hip-replacement-for-pain-in-the-back-of-the-hip/ If you’re not a good candidate for a stem cell procedure, speak to everyone and find the best surgeon in your area as things like making sure the prosthesis is the right size and surgical approach can affect outcome. If you’d like us to weigh in on your case in particular, please submit the Candidate form.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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