Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis


CHICAGO. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the U.S., affecting nearly 27 million adults. It is currently an incurable disease in which the joints deteriorate. Now, a therapy that has been used in eye surgery and to heal the skin of burn victims is being used for the first time in knees. This new form of treatment involves stem cells from amniotic fluid.

As a professional photographer, climbing up step ladders and walking down stairs are part of the daily grind for 65-year-old Linda Schwartz.

“There’s constant activity; you’re moving the whole time, really,” Schwartz told Ivanhoe.

But the pain of osteoarthritis in both of her knees was making all that activity a little harder.

Schwartz detailed, “I tried cortisone shots. I had something called Euflexxa. I was sent to physical therapy twice. I mean, I did try acupuncture in my knees. But it didn’t really seem to make a difference.”

Adam Yanke, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, explained, “It’s like the rubber on the tire. So as you start to lose the rubber in your tire and the rim hits the road, that’s what happens when you have bone on bone arthritis and you’ve lost all the cartilage in your knee.” (Read Full Interview)

Dr. Yanke enrolled Schwartz in an experimental new therapy that involved injecting amniotic fluid that contained stem cells donated by healthy mothers into the knees of osteoarthritis patients.

“Between the two of those they’re a potent anti-inflammatory and they also have growth factors that help promote healing or healthy growth of tissue,” said Dr. Yanke.

It was by far the most effective pain treatment that Schwartz has tried. Unlike cortisone shots, there are no side effects. The pain relief has so far lasted up to a year.

“It was a very gradual feeling of it’s a little bit better, it’s a little bit better, and then realizing, wow, it’s really pretty good,” said Schwartz.

The one drawback is this therapy is not for patients whose arthritis is so bad it requires knee replacement surgery. Even though it’s still in the experimental stage, Dr. Yanke offers the stem cell treatment to his patients. But at a cost of $2,200 a shot, it is not yet covered by insurance.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Jessica Sanchez, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.



TOPIC:       Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis

REPORT:   MB #4213


BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, is the most chronic condition in the joints, affecting 27 million Americans. This disease is an incurable one in which the tissue and bone in the joints deteriorate. Because the cartilage is a cushion between the bones, when this is lost a person can experience considerable pain, swelling and problems when moving the joint. This condition can affect people of any age, but it is more common in people over the age of 65. Some common risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Previous joint injury
  • Overuse of the joint
  • Weak thigh muscles
  • Genetics


TREATMENTS: Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are several treatments that exist to treat it. Each treatment depends on the patient and the severity of the disease, but all focus on managing pain, stiffness and swelling; as well as joint mobility and flexibility. Some of these treatments are:

  • Medications, like analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pills, cream and lotions
  • Physical and occupational therapies
  • Surgery
  • Natural and alternative therapies like nutritional supplements, acupuncture, massages, physical activities, and weight management


STEM CELL THERAPY: Stem cell therapy consists of a membrane product that also has amniotic fluid in it. They are usually used in eye surgery and to heal the skin of burned victims but now they’re being used to treat osteoarthritis in an experimental therapy. The main goal of the trial is to demonstrate this is an adequate therapy for relieving inflammation in the joints. The therapy involves injecting amniotic fluid that contains stem cells donated by healthy mother into the knees of patients. Dr. Adam Yanke says it’s too soon to tell if the stem cell therapy will actually help with growing back healthy tissue in order to avoid surgery, or if it will simply delay the process. Furthermore, the therapy can’t be given to patients suffering from chronic arthritis and are in need of knee replacement surgery. Nevertheless, the treatment helps with pain relief, movement and there are no reported side effects.
(Source: Adam Yanke)


Deb Song

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Adam Yanke, M.D.

Read the entire Q&A