Stem cells are touted as the true medical miracle. However, many patients balk at the thought because they do not want the controversial cells of an embryo. What they, and probably you, do not know is that even adults have stem cells in their (your) bodies. That said, you may be wondering if your own stem cells can grow you a new knee for the one that is bothering you so much. Here is more on stem cell joint therapy, as derived from your own stem cells.
No, They Cannot Grow a Full Knee
As disappointing as this may sound, they (the stem cell doctors) cannot grow a full, brand-new knee. Adult stem cells exist to replace destroyed or damaged body tissues and create specific body fluids. While that does not equal a full knee, what it does equal is a better, less painful knee than the one you have.
Growing Pieces and Parts
What stem cell therapy for joints in adults can do is take some of the stem cells you produce from your bone marrow. The researchers and doctors place this in a lab dish with some of the cells from your damaged knee part. They culture and grow this tissue until it has become a full replacement for the damaged tissue in your knee.
For example, say that you completely wrecked one of your menisci in your right knee. Your surgeon would perform a biopsy that takes a small sample of the damaged meniscus. Then some bone marrow is extracted from your hip. Both tissue samples are taken to a lab to be stored and processed before undergoing the process of growing a new meniscus for your right knee.
Taking out the Bad, and Putting in the Good
When the new meniscus is finished growing in the lab, another surgery is scheduled. Your doctor removes the badly damaged meniscus and inserts the lab-grown meniscus in its place. Because the new meniscus is literally a genetic copy of your own, your body will not refuse it, nor will you have to take anti-rejection medication to keep your body from attacking this almost foreign body part.
Repeating This Process for Everything That Is Wrong with Your Knee
Okay, so now you have an idea of how this works. The lab doctors can do this process for tendons, soft tissues, and even synovial fluid around and under your knee and kneecap. While they cannot give you new bones (yet), they can give you new knee parts that will help you move more and hurt less.