Researchers at Mayo Clinic have conducted the world’s first prospective, blinded and placebo-controlled study testing the benefits of using bone marrow stem cells to reduce arthritic pain and disability in knees.
Each of the 25 patients enrolled had two bad knees, but did not know which knee received the stem cells. In the study, one knee received a stem cell injection while the other received a saline control injection. The findings in The American Journal of Sports Medicine showed that patients not only had a dramatic improvement in the knee that received the stem cells, but in the other knee, as well.
Though both knees were dramatically better than before the study, the results have many ways to be interpreted. One way, according to lead author and Orthopedic Surgeon Shane Shapiro, MD, is that bone marrow stem cell injection in one ailing knee can relieve pain in both affected knees in a systemic or whole-body fashion. They were able to conclude the procedure is safe to undergo as an option for knee pain, but could not yet recommend it for routine arthritis care.
Reference: Shapiro,S, et al : American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 1, pages 82-90, Jan. 20