How to Treat the Elbow with Stem Cells
Harvested adult adipose stem cells are expertly injected into the elbow joint under fluoroscopic guidance with local anesthesia. Once it’s inside the elbow joint, the stem cells have the strength and capability to repair cartilage in a number of ways.
Stem cells produce various soluble factors which change the tissue microenvironment including:
- Cytokines which regulate joint inflammation.
- Growth factors stimulating the repair of cartilage.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a condition in which the outer part of the elbow becomes sore and tender. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged from overuse, repeating the same strenuous motions again and again. This leads to pain and tenderness on the outer portion of the elbow.
Any activity, including playing tennis (which involves repetitive use of the extensor muscles of the forearm) can cause acute or chronic tendinitis in the region of the insertion of these muscles and tendons at the lateral epicondyle of the elbow. This condition is commonly seen in laborers such as carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, and other workers that utilize forceful gripping / grasping with the use of tools.
Symptoms include pain on the outer part of the elbow, point tenderness over the lateral epicondyle, the prominent portion of the bone on the outer portion of the elbow.
Pain is instigated from gripping, and movements of the wrist, especially wrist extension and lifting / carrying activities. Pain from activities that use the muscles that extend the wrist, such as supporting a container of water, and lifting anything with the palm down are most notable. Other symptoms include weakness and occasional swelling over the outside of the elbow. Diagnosis of tennis elbow is made by clinical signs and symptoms that are discrete and characteristic of this injury. The treating physician may also perform a battery of tests such as x-rays, ultrasonography, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
Golfers’ Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
Golfers’ elbow or medial epicondylitis is tendinosis of the medial epicondyle of the elbow.
It is in many ways, similar to tennis elbow. The anterior forearm contains muscles and tendons involved with flexing the digits of the hands, and flexing and pronating the wrist. The tendons of these muscles come together and attach to the medial epicondyle of the humerus at the elbow joint.
In response to injury, this point of attachment becomes inflamed. The injury and pain is normally caused due to stress on the tendon as a result of the large amount of grip exerted by the digits and torsion of the wrist, which is caused by the use of an action of the group of muscles and tendons on the inner portion of the elbow.
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. This occurs when the cartilage that covers the top of the bones, known as articular cartilage, degenerates or wears down. This causes swelling, joint pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Damage from mechanical stress with insufficient self-repair by joints is believed to be the primary cause of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis most often occurs in people who are over 50. In younger people, osteoarthritis can result from an injury or trauma such as a fractured or dislocated joint. Rarely, osteoarthritis may also be hereditary.
Fractures of the elbow joint region, as well as prolonged excessive mechanical stress utilizing of the upper extremity often result in the development of osteoarthritis about the elbow joint. The diagnosis of elbow osteoarthritis is made with reasonable certainty based on history, clinical examination, and x-ray findings, documenting joint space narrowing, subchondral sclerosis, cyst formation, and possible osteophytes (bone spurs).
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-lasting autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. It commonly results in warm, swollen, and painful joints. Although most commonly, the wrist and hand are involved, the disease also affects other parts and joints of the body.
Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not completely clear, it involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The underlying mechanism involves the body’s immune system attacking joints. This affects the underlying bone and cartilage.
The diagnosis is primarily based on the person’s signs and symptoms, with the assistance of x-rays and laboratory testing. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and improve the individual’s overall functioning. This is assisted by balancing rest and exercise, uses of splints, braces, or assistive devices, and use of various medications, including steroids, NSAIDs, or the use of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to slow the progression of disease.
RA typically presents with signs of inflammation with the affected joints being swollen, warm, painful and stiff, particularly early in the morning upon awakening, or following prolonged activity.
Increased stiffness early in the morning is a prominent feature of this disease, and typically last for more than an hour. As the pathology progresses, the inflammatory activity leads to tendon tethering with erosion and destruction of the joint surface. This ultimately impairs range of movement and can lead to deformity. RA also can involve the skin, lungs, kidneys, heart and vessels, as well as multiple other body systems. RA reduces lifespan an average from 3 to 12 years, but a positive response to treatment may indicate a better prognosis.