Joint Preservation and Restoration

Orthobiologics, PRP/Stem Cells, and Supplements

Compared with other aging-related disease, arthritis has the greatest impact on activities of daily living with nearly double the prevalence and impact of coronary artery disease, which ranks a distant second.  For those who have sustained a prior athletic injury such as a meniscus tear, or ACL tear, the impact is even more dramatic.  While roughly 10% of the population will have arthritis of the knee by age 55, in those with history of an ACL tear about 50% will have arthritis of the knee on plain radiographs within 14 years of their injury.  The same is true of those with isolated meniscus injury at 15-20 year follow-up.

ACL Chart, Dr. Kevin Crawford Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedists are now turning to the burgeoning field of orthobiologics to help patients avoid surgery, to serve as an adjunct during surgery, either early or late in the post-operative phase, and to modify the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee.  This $16 billion industry is expected to grow to $60 billion over then next decade as the number of available tools continues to expand.  The field of orthobiologics focuses on harnessing engineered tissues and cells, growth factors and other biologically active molecules, along with biologic scaffolds and biomaterials, to alter the disease course of arthritis in patients at risk.  Right now the focus is on performance enhancing adjuvants like the joint supplement Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate, injectables like platelet-rich plasma (PRP), hyaluronic acid, stem cells, and cytokine modulation.  While orthopedists are still searching for the ideal adjuvant combination, our knowledge base in each of these areas continues to expand and currently offers real benefits to patients at risk for arthritis.  Over the next several posts I will expand on some of the current orthobiologic treatment options available.

Dr. Kevin Crawford

Orthopedic Surgeon

Lubbock Sports Medicine