22 Jul Stem Cells Can Help MCL Injuries Heal
For athletes, injuries to the MCL tendon can be devastating. They require time to heal, rest from the sport, and, sometimes, invasive surgeries to repair the tendon. Stem cells are able to speed up the body’s healing process by creating new, healthier tendon cells in the knee. They can help heal the knee from a partial tear faster or speed up the healing process after surgery.
What is an MCL Injury?
An MCL injury is a sprain, partial, or full tear of the medial collateral ligament. The MCL is the band of tissue on the inside of your knee. It connects your thighbone to the bone of your lower leg. The MCL keeps the knee from bending inward, stabilizing it during motion. You can hurt your MCL during activities that involve bending, twisting, or a quick change of direction. It can be injured during sports games, intense physical activities, and leisure sports. The most common symptoms of an MCL injury are swelling, pain, and tenderness in the knee. Several hours after you’ve injured your knee, pain may increase, and it might become harder to move your knee. You may notice some bruising as well. It is diagnosed through a doctor’s exam and x-ray’s of the knee. Sometimes an MRI is needed to see all the structures in the knee. If the MCL tendon is partially torn, rest and anti-inflammatory medications can generally help it heal on its own. But if the tendon is fully torn, surgery may be necessary to repair it.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
All of our body’s cells begin as stem cells and eventually differentiate into different specialized tissues, bones, and organs. They have recently been used in regenerative medicine because of their ability to repair damaged cells and create new, healthy ones. Without stem cells, our body would be unable to make any of our tissues, muscles, bones, and brain cells. There are many different methods of harvesting stem cells from our own tissues, with some methods being much easier than others. Stem cells are found in embryonic cells, adult stem cells like bone marrow cells and fat tissue cells, adult stem cells that have been changed into embryonic cells, and perinatal cells. Stem cells taken from our fat have the ability to become mesenchymal stem cells, which can be programmed to become bone, fat, and cartilage. The easiest and most pain-free method of harvesting stem cells in adults is from a patient’s own fat tissue. These fat-derived stem cells never decline in abundance as you age, as adult bone marrow stem cells do. Bone marrow stem cells can also be extremely painful to harvest, unlike fat cells that require a relatively non-invasive procedure. Embryonic stem cells have been considered unethical to use, as they take them from unborn, fertilized embryos.
How Can Stem Cells Help My MCL Injury Heal?
Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to differentiate into several tissue cell types and control immune and inflammatory responses. These stem cells can be programmed to become MCL tendon cells and heal the tendon at the source. They are also able to suppress the inflammatory response due to injury or surgery. Reducing inflammation and adding healthy cells to the tendon allow it to speed up its own healing process, reducing the time athletes are away from their sport.