Treating knee pain can lead include injections, exercise, therapy, or surgery. When surgery stands alone as the last best option, a number of approaches and modalities are available.
Traditionally, knee surgery has involved some version of arthroscopy, cartilage repair, or partial or total knee replacement. But now a new and innovative approach is making waves after a series of human trials – cartilage transplantation:
For the study, Martin and colleagues took a small sample of cartilage cells from the patient’s nose bone, then grew more cells by exposing them to growth hormone for two weeks. All the cells were then placed in a membrane of collagen and cultured for two more weeks.
And the result?
Two years after the transplants, most of the patients grew new cartilage in their knees and reported improvements in pain, knee function and quality of life.
Of course more study is needed, and a wider range of demographics must be tested before this procedure secures a place among the field’s best practices. But as a preliminary step this first study is promising, and its ease could portend a far broader application of life-restoring knee surgery for chronic pain.