Patients suffering from arthritis have to deal with a lot of discomfort and complications due to the nature of the disease. Arthritis slowly eats up the cartilage in the knees, and one way to combat these effects is replacement of the cartilage. This is an option, that is different from complete joint replacement surgery. It is less intrusive and more economical as well.
The loss of cartilage within the knee ends up causing a lot of joint pain, inflammation, and swelling in the knees, and this is something that cannot be prevented. As a curative measure, cartilage replacement of the knee is fast becoming a very popular choice of treatment, as it delays the crippling joint replacement surgery as much as possible. As arthritis worsens, more and more of the cartilage gets worn out, and hence, this surgery is a suitable and convenient solution.
How Easy Is It
Though cartilage can be produced in a lab using DNA samples, it is very difficult to replace it in the knee. By using the cartilage cells of a human body, duplicate cells can be cloned, but injecting them into the knee does not prove very useful. Placing the cells in the right position is what the real problem is, and there can be no guarantee about the same. Some bodies accept these cells eventually, whereas some reject them instantly, and suffer from various side effects as a result of that.
Even though medical science has advanced enough, to be able to clone these cartilage cells, it is still unable to show us a way to make the body accept these cells. For the process of stem cell cartilage replacement to be complete, the cells need to stick and adhere to the joint wherein they are injected, however, this is dependent on the body alone, and no one can say, how fast or how successful this process of arthritis treatment would be. The problem arises because sometimes the new cartilage is unable to support the weight of the body and legs, and is also unable to support the smooth motion of the movement of legs.
As a result, many doctors claim that this process is not appropriate for arthritis patients, as it gives them false hope. They say that people (especially sportsmen), who are suffering from minor traumatic injuries or a torn cartilage would be satisfied with this treatment, but it is not good enough for arthritis patients.
There are a few areas that need to be worked upon before the success rate of this surgery can be guaranteed. If these problems can be solved by medical science, then knee replacement could help thousands of arthritis patients. The first problem related to the replacement of the cartilage is that of adherence. The cartilage forms a thick lining on the end of the bones, so a way needs to be found to adhere the cartilage to the bone.
Secondly, one must know that the cartilage is made up of other things than just cells. There are other components present in it, like, water, collagen, proteins, and other non-cellular material. Simply injecting the cartilage cells into the knee does not deal with the necessity of all these materials. And lastly, patients who have suffered serious joint damage, stand to gain nothing from it, due to the formation of bone spurs, and the flattening of the round edges of the bone. Simply put, this damage is irreparable.
Genetic engineering is an area that many scientists and giant medical companies are constantly working on, and the advanced state of technology today, has paved the way for someone finding a solution to this problem as soon as possible. It can't be long now before a permanent cure for arthritis is found, and before this surgery becomes an assured and guaranteed solution to this problem.
Another aspect i.e., knee ligament replacement is also being looked into, and this can only be a good thing for the patients, who have to suffer a lot of hardships. More and more progress is being made, and the day will soon arrive, when replacement of the knee cartilage will be the standard treatment option.