In the United States, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent joint disorder. Around 50
percent of individuals are likely to be diagnosed with arthritis at some point in their
lifetimes, and this risk increases even more for those who are overweight or obese.
This disorder can cause joint pain, stiffness, tenderness, and can have a huge negative
impact on quality of life. Regenerative medicine treatments provide an alternative to
surgical procedures, and AmnioFix and mesenchymal stem cells are two of the leading
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by the breakdown of articular cartilage located
on the ends of the bones. This cartilage is known as hyaline cartilage, which is slick like
ice and helps to keep joints moving smoothly and easily. Over time, this cartilage can
begin to wear down, becoming rougher and inhibiting joint movement.
Arthritis can develop in a number of joints all over the body, the most common being the
hands, neck, hips, knees, and spine. When these joints don’t move as smoothly, it can
cause irritation in the joint, resulting in swelling and tenderness in the area. The swelling
can also decrease range of motion, which lowers functionality as well.
Cartilage has a difficult time healing because it has very limited blood flow. Because of
this, it is difficult to slow down or reverse arthritis, so joint replacement therapy is often
utilized. However, regenerative medicine treatments may be able to help restore
cartilage tissue, bringing the original joint back to health and maintaining its
What is AmnioFix?
This treatment option utilizes a sheet of tissue that is developed from a human placenta.
This tissue is made up of layers of chorion and amnion, which are the two main
membranes of the amniotic sac found inside the uterus. These membranes are packed
full of growth factors, cytokines, extracellular matrix proteins, enzyme inhibitors, and
other specialty proteins.
All of these elements play critical roles in the healing process. They can help to recruit
additional cells to the injury site, promote the regrowth of damaged tissue, and improve
blood flow to speed up the rate of healing. This therapy has been shown to reduce
inflammation levels, prevent scar tissue from forming, and improve the overall
These membranes are harvested from the placenta of healthy, screened, consenting
women who give birth via C-section. The tissue is then processed through the
PURION® method that creates a delicate scaffold of collagen matrix, which can serve
as a barrier and protective layer to damaged tissues.
This matrix can then be inserted directly into the damaged tissue using image guided
injection. This technique uses ultrasound imaging technology so that the injection can
be placed very accurately and efficiently.
One study performed injections on 10 patients who did not want to undergo surgery and
for whom conservative treatment options had failed. All 10 individuals reported that their
pain levels had improved by at least 65 percent, and none of them experienced any side
effects after four weeks, eight weeks, and six months.
What are Mesenchymal Stem Cells?
Mesenchymal stem cell therapy is a regenerative medicine technique that utilizes cells
extracted directly from a person’s own bone marrow, adipose tissue, or synovial tissue.
These cells have the ability to differentiate into other cells, including osteoblasts, which
create bone; chondroblasts, which create cartilage; fibroblasts, which create fibrous
tissues; muscle cells; and adipose cells.
These cells are generally extracted from the bone marrow using a needle that is
inserted into the hip bone or through a liposuction procedure. Once these cells have
been extracted, the sample is placed in a centrifuge to separate the various
components. Then, the layer containing the stem cells is isolated, and they are often
replicated in a laboratory setting. This provides enough cells to be used effectively in
The ability of these cells to differentiate presents them as a very promising option in the
field of regenerative medicine. Stem cells have been widely tested using animal models,
and studies have shown that they are able to successfully regrow cartilage tissue.
Stem cells have also been tested using human subjects. One woman was experiencing
arthritis in her hip, and she was not able to relieve the pain using NSAIDs. She reported
her pain level as a seven at resting and a nine while walking. She decided to try stem
cell therapy, and received an injection.
Four weeks afterwards, her pain rating had lowered to a four, and after 12 weeks, her
pain rating was reduced to a two, showing an overall reduction of more than 70 percent.
Her range of motion also improved significantly with flexion, abduction, and adduction.
Similar results have also been seen in other cases of arthritis in both the hip and knee.
Further studies have shown the effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cell therapy on
treating arthritis in the ankles.
The Future of Regenerative Therapies
Osteoarthritis is a debilitating disease, and having to address the problem with surgical
procedures is not in every patient’s best interest. The therapy options provided by
AmnioFix and mesenchymal stem cells offer a very promising, non-surgical, and
minimally-invasive treatment alternative.
These methods have been shown to help restore and produce new cartilage tissue in
the affected area, providing increased functionality in the joint. They also help to reduce
scar tissue buildup and prevent inflammation from occurring, which can improve joint
mobility, reduce tenderness, and lower overall pain levels. To find out more information
on Regenerative Medicine in an around the Litchfield Park or Surprise areas, please
contact Dr. Wendi Lundquist, DO with the Active Life Physical Medicine & Pain Center