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Figures from the National Joint Replacement Registry show that the number of knee replacement surgeries since 2003 has soared by almost 55 per cent. The spike in surgeries is largely a result of an increase in those affected by osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis that represents more than 50 per cent of arthritis case in Australia. Previously surgery was seen as a last and often painful resort to treating osteoarthritis of the knee. However a new treatment is being embraced by specialists as a potential cure that could ease suffers' pain and discomfort forever.
The breakthrough treatment
The treatment is called fat-derived stem cell therapy. It supports the regeneration of joint and tendon disease by harvesting adult stem cells from the patient's own fat – specifically adipose tissue, found in the abdominal region. The cells are injected into the affected area to replace lost or damaged cells, reducing inflammation and encouraging the repair and regrowth of healthy tissue. Although fat-derived stem cell therapy is still in its infancy, early results indicate it may lead to cartilage regeneration, delaying the need for joint replacement by 10 or 20 years and possibly, if the disease is treated at the early stage, stop its progression altogether.
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