Human life expectancy has been increasing at a rapid rate owing to advanced medical sciences and a healthy lifestyle. It’s not uncommon these days to play active sports and in general, staying physically active past your 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s. This comes with its own challenges such as a high proportion of sports-related injuries and a few age-related diseases.
A recent study indicated that an average of more than eight million sports and recreation-related injuries occur each year. Injuries occur and are prevalent while playing sports or being involved in physical activity such as playing football, soccer, tennis, running marathons - 50% of these injuries required treatment. Acute and chronic pain in knees, hips and other joints may be experienced due to some sports-related injuries or ageing joints.
When you are in your 40’s and upwards, the body encounters its own challenges. Deterioration in joint function due to changes that come with ageing such as weakening muscles, weight gain and the body’s inability to heal itself effectively is not uncommon.
When these conditions prevail and reduce your ability to complete routine tasks or enjoy an active lifestyle, it’s time to weigh your options, which include medication, injections, undergoing simple surgical procedures or joint replacement surgery. Even though joint replacement surgery is common and effective, it is the last resort. There are effective alternative treatments available that can delay or avoid the need for joint replacement surgery.
So why do our joints hurt?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs in all ages (most common in older) in the knees, hips, spine, hands and big toes. It is one of the most common chronic condition of joints that can be treated by cartilage regeneration and joint preservation.
The main signs of osteoarthritis are chronic pain and sometimes, stiffness in the affected joints. Increased pain when you move joint or at the end of day.
Joint is swollen; hard and knobbly or soft swelling. Unable to move joint freely; grating or crackling sounds when you move it. Muscles around the joint look thin or give way at times; joint structure become less stable
What are the solutions?
A relatively new field of medicine, it is an approach that is harnessing the body’s own regenerative capabilities to repair injured or diseased parts of the tissue. It is the process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function.
The demand for safe, efficient and cost-effective treatments has contributed to the emergence of regenerative medicine as an alternative to intrusive surgery. Governed by international regulatory bodies, accelerating development and access to effective regenerative medicine therapies are encouraging more patients to adapt to this approach.
Growth Factors and Scaffolds
Growth factors are proteins that may act locally or systematically to affect the growth of cells in several ways. Cytokines are a family of low-molecular-weight proteins that regulate the immune response, inflammation, tissue remodeling and cellular differentiation.
Scaffolds are used to support organs and organ systems that have been damaged after injury or disease. They provide a three-dimensional environment in which the tissue can grow and develop. For example, collagen scaffolds used in tissue regeneration may be in the form of sponge, sheet or gel.
Stem cells play a role in regenerative medicine by providing a way to repopulate organs damaged by disease. They can self-renew and regenerate cells within the tissue they reside.
Cell and Joint Preservation
Cartilage regeneration is an attempt to restore damaged joint cartilage through techniques like ACI – Autologous chondrocyte implantation. This treatment takes a small sample of your own cartilage cells (chondrocytes) and grows them into a surplus population of several million spares on a scaffolding that a surgeon then implants back into your knee.
ACI restores normal joint function, provides pain relief, slows down the progression of damage and considerably delays the need for partial or total joint replacement surgery. Used in multiple joints, many patients return to normal pain-free activity.
Joint replacement surgery involves removing the damaged or diseased parts of a joint and replacing them with new, man-made parts. It is a great solution to alleviate pain, improve quality of life and provides long-lasting relief. It is important to note that you must adopt an active, healthy lifestyle after surgery to sustain the benefits of the surgery. Joint replacement is the LAST resort!
Reduced Pain: When pain is of primary concern, joint replacement surgery could be the right choice for you. The new joint alleviates pain, enables you to be more active.
Long-lasting effect: While the replacement Is not permanent, it is known to last from 15 – 25 years. Leading an active and healthy lifestyle will also improve mobility and enhance joint function.
Better Quality of Life: You can live a fuller life after surgery; providing you with better mobility and to pursue activities that seemed difficult earlier with ease.
What to Expect: Improved Quality of Life
You are not limited by your failing joints. You can take control of your health and consequently, your life when you get the right treatment to treat joint pain or injury. HKSS’s professionals can help you choose a suitable medical solution to enjoy a fuller, active and healthy life.