Does Stem Cell Therapy Work as a Treatment for Arthritis?

There has been much hype about the use of stem cells in the management of degenerative orthopaedic conditions and there are an abundance of practitioners who have made handsome profits administering stem cell injections on the basis that this therapy has regenerative potential to regrow cartilage in worn joints or heal diseased cartilage. While the concept behind the use of stem cells is attractive, there are many unknowns that makes its widespread use in the management of arthritis as yet uncertain in terms of therapeutic benefit. These include the fact that stems cells can be harvested from different locations and this may affect both the concentration and quality of the cells. Second, stem cell therapy is largely not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration which means that there is little oversight into the practice of stem cell harvesting and administration. Without robust quality control, there is little way to known that what is being injected meets a scientific standard commensurate with its intended goal. Finally, there have been no well-designed scientific studies that have proven conclusively that stem cells work better than a placebo control substance in alleviating symptoms, slowing the progression of disease or regenerating worn joints. To this end, the current state of stem cell therapy, while promising, remains a “Buyer Beware” market. Until more conclusive data is available, people suffering from arthritis would do just as well to focus on weight management, wellness, nutritional optimization, and other therapies which have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

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