Today, May 1, marks the beginning of National Arthritis Month, which occurs in May of every year. According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in five adults will be afflicted with arthritis. This makes it the front-runner for disability in the U.S., something we in the field of interventional orthopedics are determined to address. So throughout the month of May, as we continue to work to boot arthritis out of that number one spot, all of our Tuesday and Thursday blog posts will focus on arthritis.
We are kicking off National Arthritis Month by talking about the nonsurgical therapies we are using here at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic to treat and prevent arthritis, focusing specifically on orthobiologics to treat arthritis (e.g., PRP and bone marrow stem cells). Let’s first look at what we are trying to prevent as we work to change the trajectory of arthritis treatment.
Preventing Orthopedic Surgery in All but the Most Extreme Conditions
The first and foremost solution to preventing highly invasive arthritis surgery, such as a joint replacement, is to minimize the risks of developing arthritis to begin with. We’ll talk more in depth about these on a joint by joint basis as the month goes on, but one way to potentially avoid a joint replacement is to avoid other surgeries that lead to or advance arthritis.
Many orthopedic surgeries significantly disrupt joint stability and create stress and faster wear and tear on the cartilage (it’s cartilage breakdown that defines arthritis). These include surgeries on the knee meniscus, shoulder and hip labrum, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). In fact, now that there are interventional orthopedic solutions to all of these musculoskeletal issues and many, many more, surgery should be reserved for only the most extreme cases. Yet the majority of patients undergoing these surgeries aren’t extreme cases. Take meniscus tear surgery for example, an unnecessary surgery to begin with except in very rare instances, and many patients who’ve had it are finding that within a few years, they’ve now developed knee arthritis. Why? Cartilage stress and degeneration after chunks of the protective meniscus were removed years earlier.
Once arthritis has been diagnosed, particularly with knee or hip arthritis, many worry that joint replacement will be the final outcome. And as arthritis worsens, this is often the final chapter of a painful journey, but, again, only the most extreme cases (i.e., severe bone-on-bone arthritis) should even be considered for this aggressive and highly invasive surgery. In our experience, the majority of patients undergoing joint replacement are not extreme cases. In fact, younger and younger arthritis patients and milder and milder arthritic joints are undergoing joint replacement today. In addition, surgery comes with many risks, lengthy rehab times, and often doesn’t achieve the results you were hoping for, such as pain relief or being able to toss the pain meds.
Using Orthobiologics to Treat Arthritis and Better Yet, Prevent It in the First Place
Orthobiologics are biological substances that are used to treat orthopedic conditions. These include bone marrow stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) along with platelet lysate, growth factors, and many other substances that enhance healing. At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, we perform these treatments by harvesting the patient’s own stem cells or platelets, concentrating them, and reinjecting bone marrow concentrate (BMC) or PRP, for example, using advanced image guidance into the affected structure. What does an orthobiologic treatment look like? Watch below as our own Dr. Pitts performs precise injections to treat hand arthritis:
If you haven’t yet developed arthritis, being ProActive and addressing musculoskeletal problems immediately with orthobiologics rather than letting them linger should be your goal if you want to lower your risk of arthritis. If you do have arthritis, having an examination to determine the severity is your first step to finding out if you are a candidate for Regenexx orthobiologics to treat arthritis. In most cases, your arthritis can be treated via an injection procedure similar to the one shown in the video above, potentially protecting your joint from amputation and replacement.
Our next round of blog posts for National Arthritis Month will explore arthritis through each area of the body, starting with the knee on Thursday, May 3.