You are a middle-aged man or woman dealing with the chronic pain of osteoarthritis. You know that your pain is only going to get worse as you get older. Your doctor recommends that you go get the best knee brace for osteoarthritis, combine it with some over-the-counter pain medication, and learn to live with it. It is going to be a big part of the rest of your life. But is your doctor right? Is that all there is to treating this painful condition?
Common treatments for osteoarthritis in the knee include braces, pain medication, and even knee replacement surgery. A doctor is the most qualified to advise patients on what course of treatment is best. However, there are alternative treatments for people willing to look at healing with an open mind. Two of those treatments are discussed below.
Basics of Osteoarthritis
Before getting into the alternative treatments, a quick discussion regarding the basics of osteoarthritis is in order. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints, most commonly the knees, hips, shoulders, and fingers. It is age-related in most patients; sports injuries and other forms of trauma can bring it on as well.
The pain of osteoarthritis is caused by the two bones that make up a joint rubbing against one another. This is allowed to happen because the cartilage that normally provides cushioning between the bones has either degenerated substantially or is gone completely. Pain is caused both by bones grinding together and the inflammation that results.
Regenerative Medicine Alternatives
The two previously mentioned alternative treatments fall under the category of regenerative medicine. For the record, there is little evidence by way of clinical studies that show these two treatments work. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence, though.
The first of the two treatments is known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. PRP therapy utilizes concentrated blood platelets injected into the affected joint to promote healing and reduce pain. Platelets contain both growth factors and nutrients that are known to encourage the body to engage in self-healing. Patients supply their own blood for the procedure, so there is little risk of complications.
Stem cell therapy is the other alternative treatment. Similar to PRP therapy, this therapy utilizes stem cells donated by the patient rather than blood platelets. The stem cells are believed to trigger a response in the body that could help regenerate damaged cartilage.
Better Than the Best Knee Brace for Osteoarthritis?
You may be asking yourself whether PRP and stem cell therapies are better than the best knee brace for osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, there is no black or white answer. Regenerative medicine, while based on scientifically proven principles, does not necessarily produce the same results in every patient. Some patients respond very well to PRP and stem cell therapies; others see only minimal pain relief or none at all.
The one thing we do know is that both alternative therapies are minimally invasive. Where knee replacement surgery is major surgery that is wrought with potential complications, PRP and stem cell therapies are only as invasive as being stuck with a needle. And because patients donate their own blood and stem cells, the risk of complications is near zero.
Your doctor might encourage you to go out and get a knee brace to help you deal with the pain of osteoarthritis. If so, there are plenty of great braces on the market. If a brace does not help as much as you think it should, you might want to consider all your options before undergoing knee replacement surgery. Regenerative medicine is at least worth considering.