In good hands

Stem cell therapy as an alternative to an artificial knee joint

Osteoarthritis causes pain and more and more people these days, because the condition is considered a primary joint disease. Shoulder, hip, hands: many joints can be affected. But most often the knee joint suffers from the destruction of the cartilage layer in the joint due to high load. Until now, research has been able to inhibit and thus slow down the wear and tear of the knee joint, but a cure has not been possible, and so for many patients the only option in the end has been an artificial knee joint. Prof. Dr. Diehl is now using a technique that was recently developed in the USA, making him one of the few physicians in Bavaria to consider stem cell therapy as a treatment method. “I advise osteoarthritis patients before the use of an artificial knee joint to review a stem cell therapy as a gentle alternative,” advises leading osteoarthritis expert Prof. Dr. Diehl, who received the placet of the Government of Upper Bavaria for his innovative work. The treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis, is minimally invasive, and can be completed in one to three hours, depending on the findings. Side effects are not known so far. In the course of stem cell therapy, fatty tissue is removed from the abdominal area and re-injected as a stem cell-rich fat mixture into the so-called Hoffa’s fat body at the knee. Due to its active involvement in metabolic processes at the knee joint, this is often a hub for chronic inflammation and a significant driver of knee pain. “The injection of stem cells succeeds in eliminating the pain or at least alleviating it for a few years,” Diehl said. Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to successful completion of therapy, he said, as is a special rehabilitation program to promote healing so that the knee joint can be used again without pain as soon as possible.