Total joint replacement is the most widely accepted treatment for severe arthritis or extensive injuries in the knees and hip joint.
The procedure is commonly applied to injured or aging individuals and the success rate of the surgery is reasonable considering that it’s a major surgery. However, joint replacement surgery should be considered as a last resort to maintain joint function. The nature of the surgery itself is invasive and it could potentially lead to complications.
Thanks to technological advances, scientists have developed a non-invasive alternative to joint replacement surgery, stem cell treatment. Although testing is only in its early stages the results are promising. To compare the effectiveness of both treatments, we’ve put together pros and cons of each procedure:
The Pros and Cons of Joint Replacement Surgery
Pros: Reduces Pain
A joint replacement surgery cuts dow chronic pain significantly. That’s because the procedure requires complete removal of the diseased or arthritic joint. Once the patient recovers from the surgery, there is a significant reduction in pain.
Pros: Boosts Range of Motion
Arthritic or worn out joints can affect a patient’s range of motion. When joint inflammation strikes, the patient is unable to walk properly or complete normal, day-to-day tasks because of pain. A joint replacement surgery helps restore range of motion and free patients from pain.
Pros: Better Quality of Life
When you are free from pain, your health and well-being improve too! A joint replacement surgery helps improve a patient’s quality of life. The procedure allows the patient to complete simple tasks without pain or inflammation.
Cons: Lifespan of the Implants
The implants do not last forever. An average hip or knee joint implant will last for 10 to 15 years. When the implant is worn out, the patient will undergo another surgery for replacement.
Cons: Vulnerability to Infections
Repeated surgery could cause severe infections. And the implants itself could increase the likelihood of an infection that’s why patients are required to take antibiotics during and after surgery.
The Pros and Cons of Stem Cell Treatment
Stem cells refer to cells that are able to transform into different types of specialized cells. During the procedure, a shot of a patient’s own stem cells is administered in the affected area. The stem cells then transform into chondrocytes. These are cells that produce fresh cartilage. According to tests, stem cells appear to boost the body’s own repair abilities. Studies show that stem cell treatment helps reduce inflammation, restore joint function and speed up healing.
Pros: Quick Recovery
The stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own bone tissues. Administering the stem cells is fairly quick and straightforward. There is no downtime at all so recovery is very quick. In fact, the patient can go back to his day to day activities 24 hours after a stem cell treatment.
Pros: Less Complications
Because the treatment is quick and recovery is even shorter, stem cell treatment poses very little health complications. That’s because the doctors will use the patient’s own stem cells. This reduces the chances of infection or rejection.
Cons: More Testing Needed
Some scientists remain unconvinced that the science of stem cell treatment is there so information about stem cell treatments remains limited.
Cons: Results will Vary
Because stem cell treatments are mostly tested on animals and few administered to human subjects, the results vary. The circumstance will vary from patient to patient so the reaction to stem cells could be different as well.
Cons: Expensive, Not FDA-Approved
Stem cell treatments are not covered by insurance. Every shot is worth at least $4,000 and virtually all patients require more than a single shot of stem cell to treat joint pain. The high cost is attributed to the lack of FDA approval.