Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA), also called degenerative joint disease, is one of the most common conditions of the joints. Loss of function, poor range of motion and persistent joint pain are just some of the ways this degenerative disease impacts daily living. Adult stem cell therapy is a minimally-invasive approach to treating the structural and systemic aspects of joint pain for a better quality of life.

Osteoarthritis & Inflammation

Osteoarthritis (or OA, also called “wear and tear arthritis”) in the past has been classified differently from a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which is characterized by system-wide inflammation and autoimmune responses which attacks joint tissue. However, recent findings have increased our understanding of the cycle of osteoarthritis as an inflammatory disease.

In fact research today points to the fact that chronic, low-grade abnormalities in immune system response set the stage for chronic diseases in general, including OA. Adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells (ADRCs) can home to sites of inflammation, have distinct anti-inflammatory capabilities and are able to modulate the immune system. In addition, they are able to address structural damage by repairing or replacing bone or cartilage tissue.

The Power of Stem Cells for Joint Pain

Adult stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are repair cells that are found in many tissues of the body and have been studied for many years in bone marrow. They are known to “home” to signals of inflammation in damaged tissue and organs to do their job repairing normal wear and tear on the body. However, aging and degeneration are a failure of those stem cells in the local environment (such as a knee or hip) due to the decreasing numbers and potency of cells as we grow older.

Adult stem cell research began with bone marrow-derived stem cells and specifically the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) therein. Adipose tissue has been found to be the most accessible, abundant and potent source of MSCs, the key adult “repair” cell found in all tissues and organs of the body. The combination of adult stem and regenerative cells found in the adipose tissue (body fat) are commonly referred to as “repair cells” for their ability to:

  • Address widespread inflammation
  • Turn into replacement bone and cartilage cells
  • Prevent further premature cell and tissue death
  • Reduce scarring
  • Modulate abnormal immune responses
  • Stimulate the growth of new blood vessels for better blood flow

Importantly, it has been found that adipose tissue has up to 2,500 times more stem and regenerative cells per gram than that of bone marrow. It is this blend of healing cells in combination with Okyanos’ chosen technology and protocols which gives our patients the greatest possible opportunity to experience pain relief, improve range of motion and reduce scarring in even severe cases of degenerated joints.

The Procedure

Stem cell treatment at Okyanos is a minimally invasive, same-day outpatient procedure. Though recovery can and does vary from patient to patient, our protocols are designed and carried out with the goal of keeping “downtime” to a minimum. A general overview of the procedure is as follows:

  1. First, water-assisted fat harvesting is done to obtain a sufficient amount of adipose (fat) tissue.
  2. The unique blend of stem and regenerative cells which exist in the adipose tissue are then isolated and prepared for intravenous delivery utilizing a closed/sterile, fully automated CGMP cell processing system. A closed/sterile, manually operated cell processing technology will also be used to obtain a micro-fragmented, cell-rich product for direct injections.
  3. In accordance with the individualized treatment plan prepared for each patient, adult stem and regenerative cells are then guided by direct injection and/or intravenously to address the systemic factors relating to orthopedic dysfunction. This combination of IV and direct injection is a technique developed by doctors at Okyanos. Direct injections are performed under ultrasound or 2D-fluoroscopic guidance to ensure proper placement of the cells.

To learn more about adult stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis and joint conditions, contact an Okyanos Patient Liaison to request a free educational consultation or dial 855-OKYANOS (855-659-2667).


Role of Inflammation in the Pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis: Latest Findings and Interpretations (April, 2013) in Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. Retrieved from

MSCs: The Sentinel and Safe-Guards of Injury (July, 2016) in Journal of Cellular Physiology. Abstract retrieved from

Clinical Applications of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Chronic Diseases (30 April 2014) in Stem Cells International. Retrieved from

Therapeutic Potential of Stem Cells in Orthopedics (January-February, 2012) in Indian Journal of Orthopaedics. Retrieved from

Application of Stem Cells in Orthopedics (2012) in Stem Cells International, volume 2012 article ID 394962. Retrieved from

Therapeutic Application of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Orthopaedics (April, 2005) in Pathologie Biologie. Retrieved from

Application of Stem Cells in Orthopedics (2012) in Stem Cells International, volume 2012 article ID 394962. Retrieved from

Adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal/stem cells: An update on their phenotype in vivo and in vitro (July 26, 2014) in World Journal of Stem Cells. Retrieved from

Michalek J, Dudasova Z, Kristkova Z, Darinskas A, Lukac L, Chaloupka A, Moster R. Stem Cell Therapy of Osteoarthritis Using Stromal Vascular Fraction Cells—Proceeding of the STEMSO Conference (2014) in CellR4. Retrieved from

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