Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes severe pain, redness, a feeling of hotness and swelling of the joint. Most often, the disease affects only one joint (usually the joint of the big toe or knee).
The mechanism of gout development is associated with the deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals within synovial joints. This accumulation occurs due to the dysfunctional metabolism of uric acid in the body. Uric acid usually dissolves in the blood and is excreted by the kidneys (and to a lesser extent by the intestines). However, sometimes the kidneys can’t cope with the amount of uric acid produced, and so small crystals of this substance form and are deposited in the large joints of the lower limbs or, less often, the upper limbs.
An attack of gout (gouty arthritis) usually starts suddenly and has significant negative effects on everyday life. For example, the patient can’t walk because of pain in the leg, or can’t do everyday things because of limited mobility of the arm.
Typical treatment for gout is aimed at reducing the symptoms but does not prevent another attack of the disease in the future. Also, it doesn’t improve the metabolism where the root of the disease lies. In contrast, when applying stem cells for the treatment of gout, it becomes possible to achieve a more complete result, including the elimination of symptoms, improvement of metabolism and the normalization of blood pressure.
Read this article to learn how gout can be treated, what stem cell therapy for gout involves, and what its advantages are over conventional treatment. You can also contact us to find out whether stem cell therapy would be effective in your case.
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How is gout treated?
Conventional treatment of gout involves taking two types of drugs to control hyperuricemia:
1. Decreasing the formation of excess uric acid (urate-lowering drugs);
2. Enhancing its excretion from the body (uricosuric drugs).
This treatment helps to dissolve the deposits of sodium urate crystals on the joints themselves, as well as in the surrounding tissues (tophus).
However, the disadvantages of this treatment include the presence of side effects from the prescribed drugs. In particular, there is a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and related mortality when taking febuxostat and allopurinol. In addition, uricosuric drugs can potentially worsen the risk of kidney stones (urolithiasis).
Also, the therapeutic effect is often reversible. Although the gout attack is stopped with the help of these drugs, the patient’s metabolism is not improved and still does not cope with the full excretion of uric acid from the body. After treatment, the crystals may form again, causing another attack of gout. Accumulating over the years, the negative impacts of the disease can lead to the development of long-term effects, including bone tissue damage, and nerve compression syndromes.
Anti-inflammatory drugs, also prescribed as part of treatment for gout, help to alleviate painful sensations and reduce swelling. However, they can also have side effects, such as increased blood pressure, abdominal pain, and digestive problems.
Other recommendations for patients with gout include weight loss and blood pressure control. Also, the adoption of a low-purine diet is considered an important addition to the treatment of gout.Gout and nutrition
There is a direct connection between gout and nutrition. Some foods contain higher concentrations of purines, organic compounds that are metabolized into uric acid. By reducing the consumption of these foods, patients predisposed to gout can avoid an increase in the level of uric acid in their blood (hyperuricemia).
High-purine foods include:
- meat, especially broths and organ meat;
- fish (mostly anchovies, sardines and tuna);
- legumes (soy, lentils, peas);
- varieties of cabbage (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, white cabbage, cauliflower);
- some nuts and seeds (poppy seeds, sunflower, peanuts);
- some cereals (buckwheat, oatmeal, millet, barley);
- alcoholIc beverages;
- strong tea, cocoa, coffee.
Stem cells in the treatment of gout. Who would benefit?
For some patients, following a low-purine diet and taking urate-lowering and/or uricosuric drugs, together with anti-inflammatory medications, is sufficient treatment for gout. With this treatment, symptoms are removed in 1-2 weeks, while the diet helps to maintain a normal level of uric acid in the body to avoid future attacks.
However, there are a number of patients who may not be relieved by the typical treatment described above. These are cases in which:
- there is a genetic predisposition;
- there are comorbidities (high blood pressure, diabetes, impaired kidney function);
- the duration of the disease is about 10 years or more, and gout attacks happen 3 or more times per year;
- a patient suffers from side effects or intolerance to the usual drugs for gout;
- a patient faces the necessity for joint replacement and wants to avoid this.
In these cases, stem cell therapy is recommended as it prolongs the treatment effect and may prevent a new gout attack.
How do stem cells work in patients with gout?
Stem cells are special types of cells that are present in the body from birth and are responsible for the self-renewal of the body’s tissues. Their number decreases as we become older; this leads to ageing and the development of diseases. Scientists have learned to use these cells to enhance the ability of the body to recover itself from different illnesses and health conditions.
Stem cells have a proven ability to relieve inflammation and regulate the patient’s immune system. In addition, stem cells are known for their regenerative properties. Once in the body, thanks to special chemotactic factors, they move to the damaged area and carry out their work there to restore tissues by protecting weakened cells and stimulating the formation of new cells.
In gout, this occurs both in the area of the affected joint and in other organs and systems of the patient’s body where “repair” is required. Thus, while anti-gout medications are often helpful but can cause adverse reactions, stem cells have a beneficial effect on overall health, leading to a natural recovery.
Possible results of the therapy
Patients who have undergone stem cell therapy for gout, report the following positive effects:
- reduction of soreness and inflammation, already in the first days after the procedure of stem cell injection;
- improvement of mobility in the affected joint;
- improvements in medical test results;
- normalizing blood pressure;
- improved quality of articular and surrounding tissues (in the long term);
- increased energy level.
According to the data of our clinic, stem cell therapy leads to positive outcomes in up to 80% of cases of patients with various types of arthritis.
What does stem cell therapy involve?
In stem cell therapy for gout, our patients receive their own (autologous) or donated (allogeneic) stem cells. We use only mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from adult human tissues, such as fat, bone marrow, or placenta. According to the personal treatment plan, other cell-based products are also applied, if required. This may include a stromal vascular fraction (SVF).
Diagnosis is necessary before the administration of stem cells. At the Clinic, we perform blood and urine tests, ultrasound, ECG, and other tests.
Treatment usually lasts from several days to two weeks, depending on the severity of the disease, the presence of concomitant pathologies, the wishes of the patient and the expected results of therapy.
After evaluating the patient’s case, a therapeutic dose of cells is prepared. The cells are administered intravenously via IV drip, as well as locally into the damaged joint. The procedure can be repeated to improve the result of treatment.
Is it painful?
The procedure of administering stem cells intravenously feels exactly the same as a typical IV dropper and causes no pain. What about local injections into the area of the affected joint? This has the potential to be rather painful and this is why we use local anaesthesia, which allows the procedure to be performed with maximum comfort for the patient.
To enhance the healing abilities of injected stem cells and to fix the treatment result, a number of additional therapies may be prescribed at the Clinic. For example, Spark Wave is a procedure that stimulates regeneration in damaged tissue and reduces the inflammatory process within the joint.
Safety of stem cell therapy in gout treatment
While using embryonic and fetal stem cells still raises many concerns related to their potentially unfavourable activity in the recipient’s body, mesenchymal stem cells have repeatedly been found to be safe even when donor cells were used. MSCs are a type of adult stem cell taken from adipose or bone tissue – the patient’s own or donated – as well as from the tissues of the donated placenta after a healthy birth. In addition to safety, this resolves an ethical issue as well.
Are there any side effects?
As for the possible side effects of stem cell therapy for gout, these include the typical risks associated with any medical procedure, such as local redness in the area of the injection. In rare cases (less than 5%), there is a short-term fever after the procedure, which resolves independently. Also, mild fatigue may occur, so rest is recommended for the first days after treatment.
In general, according to both the research and our clinical experience, stem cell therapy does not bring any additional risks compared to conventional methods of treatment, provided that the protocol is followed and it is performed by qualified specialists while using a certain type of cells (MSCs).
How to enter the stem cell therapy program
To learn more about the treatment program and possible outcomes of stem cell therapy for gout, you can contact us to get an online conversation with our medical consultant. You will be asked several questions and, after your case is evaluated by doctors of the Clinic, you will be informed about a possible treatment plan, its cost and its duration.
We take over the organization of the treatment process, wherever a patient comes from. This includes providing visa assistance, transfer from the airport or train station, interpreter services, accommodation in an individual room (allowed with a relative or companion), meals, and 24/7 medical support during the treatment.
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Contact us to learn about the expected results of the treatment, its cost and duration.