Knee arthritis is a common cause of knee pain in the aging population. With baby boomers entering their 5th and 6th decades of life, injectable therapy is often an attractive option to maintain an active lifestyle. While there are many evidenced based treatments for osteoarthitis, none have been shown to prevent the progression of arthritis.
Treatments for knee arthritis often include a combination of weight loss, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, injections, and culminating in total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement) when in end stage. In recent years much attention has been placed on injection therapies. For several years corticosteroid and hyaluronic ("gel") injections have been used for treatment of knee arthritis. In more recent years platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections have shown benefit in knee arthritis as well. While randomized controlled trials have shown potential benefit of these treatments, there is more limited evidence for the use of "stem cell" injections.
A recent New York Times article highlights the potential risks of venturing into injection therapies not supported by clinical research. Aside from cost, the lack of evidence in support of these injections is not as much of the problem as is the potential (and often unknown) risks. The New York Times article highlights the potential risks of complications associated with "stem cell injections" that are not F.D.A approved.
While there is promise in certain injection therapies for knee arthritis, it is important to talk to your Physician about the potential risks and benefits of each treatment, and create a safe and personalized treatment plan to keep you living an active and enjoyable life!