We Coloradans are an extremely active people. We love our mountain sports such as hiking, skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, and flatland activities such as mixed martial arts and football. You name the activity, we probably do it in Colorado. However, knee pain is very common and can halt these activities resulting in the inability to enjoy your sports. Knee injuries can also cause pain during basic activities like walking or climbing stairs, or pain that wakes you at night. Regenerative therapies are an exciting new approach to address knee pain and decreased function in lieu of typical treatments such as steroid injection, pain medication, and surgery.
Knee Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease)
Historically, knee surgeries have been done to “clean up the knee”. However, recent, well designed, large scale studies have demonstrated that arthroscopic meniscectomies for knee pain (without mechanical issues such as the knee locking) actually accelerate the degeneration of the knee and are no more effect than physical therapy. When knee arthritis is not so advanced that it is “bone-on-bone,” regenerative therapies, such as amniotic allograft, bone marrow aspirate stem cells (BMAC), and platelet rich plasma (PRP) may provide excellent pain relief and return to activities. While it is not yet known if regenerative therapies can reverse cartilage damage or prevent progression to a total knee replacement, regenerative therapies have evidence of improved pain and function beyond that of standard care. At RIC, we have seen excellent outcomes for individuals with knee osteoarthritis being able to return to their beloved activities following our Regenerative Therapies.
Recently, Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M), a component of a type of Platelet Rich Plasma therapy that RIC performs, has been demonstrated to slow degenerative progression of the knee and provide substantial pain relief. It is derived from a simple blood draw and specialized centrifuge preparation. It is then injected into the arthritic knee on the same day. A2M is an excellent choice for the arthritic knee.
Knee Meniscus Tear
The meniscus is the “shock-absorber” of the knee. As with osteoarthritis as discussed above, an acute meniscal injury may not be best served by arthroscopic meniscetomy (surgery), which removes part of this natural cushion of the knee, possibly resulting in abnormal loading patterns and further degradation of the knee joint. Unless you have mechanical issues, such as locking of the joint, then removing parts of the meniscus and “cleaning up the knee” may accelerate degeneration of the knee and accelerate you towards a total knee replacement. Regenerative therapies, in addition to a comprehensive rehabilitation program, are an excellent alternative to to surgery.