Evidence that Non-Surgical Regenerative Knee Procedure Lasts As Long As Knee Replacement
The dreaded phrase for older Americans: knee replacement surgery. Osteoarthritis in joints like the knee is quite common for older people, and even present but less common in some younger people as well. Knee replacement surgery is a long and painful process with a long recovery time needed. Supposedly it’s all worth it in the end, since a knee replacement can last 15 to 20 years. However, there’s evidence to suggest that BMC knee treatments can be just as effective and last as long as knee replacement, but with a non-invasive procedure and a shorter recovery time. Read more below.
First of its Kind: 17 Year Followup Regenexx Knee Patient
A recent blog post from physician and Regenexx founder, Dr. Chris Centeno, cites a successful follow up from a knee procedure he performed 17 years prior. PG, a nurse who was 46 years old at the time of the procedure, had been having problems with knee osteoarthritis after undergoing an injury during a self-defense class (1). She received arthroscopy, corticosteroid shots, and physical therapy, all of which were unsuccessful at reducing her pain and improving the function of her knee (1). Unfortunately PG was too young to qualify for knee replacement surgery, but she did qualify for the study observing Dr. Centeno’s patients who were treated non-surgically for knee problems (1). At this time, the method of treatment was MSCs, which is a procedure quite similar to BMC (1). MSC stands for “mesenchymal stem cells,” a type of helpful growth cell that can be extracted from the patient’s own bone marrow (1). Nowadays, BMC treatments are performed with the whole of the bone marrow concentrate – including all of its helpful growth cells like MSCs, HSCs, macrophages, and platelets (1). Much to Dr. Centeno’s satisfaction, when PG returned to his office 17 years later for other musculoskeletal problems, she reported that she does not have problems with pain in her knee anymore, and she can even do activities like hiking (1).
The Knee BMC Procedure
A BMC knee procedure is a non-surgical option to treat knee pain. Regenexx’s BMC treatment is a same-day procedure: The Regenexx physician harvests bone marrow from an area of the back of the patient’s hip, and then concentrates those cells before precisely injecting them into the injured area using advanced imaging guidance (2).
This procedure is often used to treat knee osteoarthritis, since the BMC helps strengthen bone marrow and treat pain (2). This type of regenerative care is a great option for athletes, or those that are very busy and can’t afford much time off, since the BMC procedure is non-surgical and the recovery time is shorter than that of surgery.
Studies that Demonstrate Efficacy and Long-Lasting Results of BMC Procedures
There exist some studies that demonstrate the efficacy and long-lasting results of BMC treatment for osteoarthritis. One experiment from June 2015, published to the National Library of Medicine Journal, examined a sample size of 18 patients who were experiencing osteoarthritis pain and complications in various areas of the body (knee, ankle, and hip) (3). Each patient received one BMC injection, created from their own bone marrow (3). Researchers followed up with the patients at 2, 6, 12, and 30 months post-procedure (3). The procedures were safe: there were no cases of pulmonary embolism or other severe procedural complications (3). All patients reported positive effects: they were able to walk for longer and their pain decreased after receiving their BMC procedures (3).
Another study from July 2017 focused solely on treating osteoarthritis of the knee with BMC injections. 18 patients experiencing knee complications were sorted into three groups: those who would receive a relatively lower-concentrated BMC dose, those who would receive a dose of BMC more concentrated than the low-dose group, and group who would receive the highest concentration dose (4). There were no adverse outcomes from the procedure, and at a follow up of two years post-procedure, all patients had improved knee function, but the group who received the highest-concentration BMC dose seemed to have the longest-lasting positive effects (4).
Knee Replacement Surgery and Longevity
In a knee replacement surgery, a surgeon removes problem parts of a patient’s knee and replaces them with metal or plastic parts in order to reduce pain and improve knee function (5). This can be a good option for some people, but it is no doubt quite invasive, and patients can take a reasonably long time to recover from knee replacement surgery (5). The surgery includes some risks, as all surgeries do – there is a risk of blood clots, infection, and nerve damage near the area in which the replacement parts are placed (5). The replacements are durable, but it is possible for them to move around, which would require another surgery for a doctor to put the replacement parts back in the right spots (5).
Knee replacement surgery can be long-lasting – usually replacements last about 15 to 20 years – and patients can get back to doing low-impact exercises once they’ve recovered (5). However, patients who get knee replacement surgery might be advised not to do higher-exertion, strenuous activities 6 to 12 months or more (5).
Recovery Times Non-Surgical BMC Procedure Vs. Knee Replacement Surgery
Compared to knee replacement surgery, BMC knee treatments have a chance of lasting as long or longer, and it is likely that they’ll start to do their job – reducing pain and improving function – even quicker than surgery (2). The chart below is from another Regenexx article, created using the data from various knee treatment studies (2). According to the data, regenerative care is the quickest-working option for treating knee complications (2).The recovery time of knee replacement surgery vs. the BMC treatment recovery time is a stark difference. That’s one of the reasons people turn to regenerative care – the quick-acting, long-lasting effects.
Of course every patient is different. And past results are not a guarantee of future results. But it is encouraging that there is growing evidence that a non-surgical BMC procedure may give as long term relief as knee replacement.
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