Research theories (1) are, when stem cells are injected into an arthritic joint, they might:
- Develop into much needed cartilage cells to replace damaged cartilage
- Suppress inflammation that can make arthritis and associated pain worse
- Release proteins (cytokines) that slow down cartilage degeneration and/or decrease pain
In a most recent study by the Mayo Clinic (2) ,published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, findings showed that patients not only had a dramatic improvement in the knee that received stem cells, but also in their other knee, which also had painful arthritis but received only a saline control injection. Each of the 25 patients enrolled in the study had two bad knees, but did not know which knee received the stem cells.