Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Individuals with osteoarthritis can experience a variety of symptoms such as pain and stiffness in their joints, which can decrease their overall level of function and quality of life. In the last decade alternative treatment options such as Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy have emerged as potential options to help alleviate OA symptoms, by using platelets and growth factors taken from a patient’s own blood. However, recently other alternative cellular therapies have started to emerge, namely bone marrow concentrate. Recently, researchers from the University of Colorado conducted a prospective cohort study, which was published in the PM&R medical journal, to investigate the efficacy of intraarticular bone marrow concentrate (BMC) for OA.
The study included 19 patients (25 joints) diagnosed with mild OA. Patients underwent a bone marrow aspiration procedure, which was processed via centrifuge into bone marrow concentrate. Patients then received an intraarticular injection to either their hip, knee, or some had both hip and knee injected. All patients were allowed to immediately place their full weight on the joint after the procedure and were encouraged to gradually ramp up physical activity. Additionally, patients were asked to not take NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory painkillers) for three-weeks following the treatment.
On final follow up (average 13.2 months), patients showed statistically significant improvements in functional scores. In addition, patient satisfaction rate was 63.2% for the procedure. Furthermore, 64% of patients reached the benchmark for minimal clinical significance, showing that the BMC injection provided objective clinical improvement in symptoms . However, the study did show that two patients were converted to total hip arthroplasty at 8 months after BMC injection.
While researchers found promising preliminary results, they also recognized that the small patient pool limited the expansion of results to a larger population and stated that more research would be required before any causal conclusions could be made. While the results are encouraging, a protocol involving a control group (a pool of patients who either receive a standard treatment with which the BCM treatment is compared to) and standardized quantitative methods needs to be implemented.