Dr. Raj Kanna is a consultant Orthopaedic and Knee surgeon, who have made a mark in the field of Orthopedics with his success stories.


What is Knee Stem Cell Therapy?

Knee Stem Cell Therapy is a relatively newer alternative method for knee joint pain treatment. This approach to knee joint pain treatment has more advantages, when compared to the traditional approaches.

This therapy extracts the unique type of cells in our body called the stem cells, usually from an area of high density and then injects them into the damaged area to help the body heal naturally.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are found throughout our body and have unique characteristics. They can divide themselves and multiply their numbers.

They don’t perform a specific function but they can develop into different types of cells with a specific function depending on where they are placed. They can transform themselves to suit the environment, they are placed in. For instance, when stem cells are placed near a damaged cartilage, it can transform itself into a cartilage tissue later on.

Properties of Stem Cell
Harvesting the stem cells from bone marrow.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells are the common types of stem cells that used for treating Arthritis. These cells are collected or harvested from the fat, blood or bone marrow of the patient. There are different harvesting techniques like:

  • Liposuction helps in harvesting adipose stem cells.
  • The patient’s blood sample is used to harvest peripheral blood stem cells from the bloodstream.
  • Bones of a patient are used to harvest the bone Marrow stem cells.

Who Requires Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem Cell Therapy does not have a restriction on who can receive the treatment; it is left to the doctors and the patients to decide since this is an alternative therapy.

Stem Cell Therapy is recommended for the following cases:

  • Patients with early arthritis.
  • Young patients with mild osteoarthritis or cartilage damage
  • Healthy patients with relatively less cartilage damage

Stem Cell therapy can help treat patients suffering from the following knee injuries and conditions:

  • Early arthritis / Osteoarthritis
  • Meniscus Tear
  • MCL, ACL, PCL and LCL tears and sprains
  • Knee Instability
  • Patellofemoral Syndrome
  • Traumatic knee injury
MRI showing the regrowth of joint cartilage after stem cell therapy

The Stem Cell Treatment

The complete treatment usually takes a single day. The cells are first harvested from the patient’s body then they are re-injected to the damaged area. There are cases where the patients prefer a series of injections over a period instead of a single day treatment. The different steps that are involved in a Stem Cell Therapy are:

  • Pre-injection
  • Same-day stem extraction
  • Re-injection Procedure
  • Post-injection of multiple proprietary platelet mixes a few days later.

Blood is taken from a vein in your arm and this is processed in a lab along with the stem cell sample.

The Procedure

The doctor will first numb the back of the hip and take a small bone-marrow stem cell sample through a needle. The harvested stem cells are then sent for processing and the patient will be asked to rest. After the processing of the stem cells, the doctor will then re-inject the stem cells and natural growth factors from the patient’s blood platelets to the damaged area.

Real time Fluoroscopy and muscoskeletal ultrasound are some of the imaging guidance techniques that are used to pinpoint the exact location of the injection and also the dispersion of cells into the tissues.

Authored By DR Raj Kanna - Orthopaedic and Knee surgeon, Chennai