Stem Cell Therapy for Knees


Knee pain that's severe or recurring is a factor that contributes to more than 600,000 knee replacement procedures performed each year in the United States.

It wasn’t too long ago that treatment options for chronic knee pain were limited to either pain management techniques that only masked or minimized symptoms or surgery. Today, stem cell therapy (SCT) for knees is becoming an increasingly accessible and appealing option.

Reasons for Stem Cell Therapy for Knees

Joint cartilage allows your knees to absorb the added burden from your daily movements. Over time, this cartilage can be damaged by osteoarthritis (OA) or a similar progressive condition that’s often aggravated by wear-and-tear that’s sometimes accelerated by repetitious motions or excessive stress. You may also benefit from stem cell therapy for knee-related discomfort caused by:

  • Tendon damage
  • Ligament tears
  • A fracture that’s not healing well
  • Soft tissue inflammation that’s affecting nearby nerves
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How Stem Cells Are Prepared

Stem cell therapy for knees involves the use of adult stem cells. These are the ones that your body produces naturally. They are usually collected from bone marrow or fat tissue. Stem cells are used because they are non-specific cells that can adopt to the structure of whatever type of cells are in the treated area. For instance, stem cells injected into damaged or imitated tendons would become elongated tendon cells (tenocytes). The material that’s collected is spun at high speeds in a laboratory. This process results in a highly concentrated mixture of stem cells.

How Stem Cells Are Prepared

Performed as an outpatient procedure, stem cell therapy for knees focuses directly on the affected area of the knee. Image tests may be done prior to treatment to confirm that soft tissue damage is likely the source of your pain. A numbing gel or local anesthetic is often used to make the process as comfortable as possible.

The concentrated stem cell mixture is then injected into the part of the knee that needs a healing boost. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities after receiving treatment. It’s believed stem cell therapy benefits patients with knee issues by:

  • Helping with the development of cartilage cells
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Releasing beneficial proteins (cytokines) that may slow down tissue wear (degeneration)

After Stem Cell Therapy

It typically takes several weeks for the stem cells to fully work on tissues within the affected area of the knee. Some patients do notice the desired results after a single treatment. However, it’s not unusual for patients with chronic knee pain to see better results with 2-3 treatments. If more than one injection is needed, additional treatments will be spaced out to allow tissues in your knee to respond to the stem cells.

Stem cell therapy for knees is generally considered a safe procedure for suitable candidates. If you do respond well to treatment, you may be able to delay knee surgery or avoid it altogether. Additional post-procedure recommendations will depend on your goals and lifestyle. If you are athletic and active with sports, for example, you might be advised to combine physical therapy or rehab with treatment to increase your odds of getting back to your desired level of activity within a reasonable period of time.