Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

At its core, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is characterized by chronic inflammation, leading to joint pain, stiffness, and the progressive erosion of joint integrity. Traditional treatments are currently largely centered around symptom management and slowing down the disease progression. At the same time, they often fall short of providing a cure or reversing the damage already inflicted.

Today, stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) represents a cutting-edge approach to rheumatoid arthritis treatment. This method leverages the body’s own repair mechanisms by utilizing stem cells—undifferentiated cells capable of transforming into various cell types, including those necessary for repairing damaged tissues. Among the different kinds of stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) prove to be the most effective ones in the context of RA.

These cells, which can be harvested from the patient’s own fat tissue, bone marrow, or blood, possess unique anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. By modulating the immune system’s response and promoting the regeneration of damaged tissues, MSCs offer a dual-action approach to treating RA.

In this article, we will cover the basics of the subject, shed light on some of your expectations from stem cells for rheumatoid arthritis treatment, as well as answer the questions of whether stem cells be used for rheumatoid arthritis, can stem cells cure rheumatoid arthritis, talk about the benefits of stem cells for RA, and more.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the joints. It can lead to chronic inflammation, pain, stiffness, and eventually erosion of joint integrity. 

Unlike osteoarthritis, which results from physical wear and tear, RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium—the lining of the membranes that surround the joints.

This abnormal immune response causes inflammation that can thicken the synovium, damaging the cartilage and bone within the joint over time. 

Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis in Hand

Symptoms of RA can vary in severity and may come and go, often leading to significant discomfort and disability. The condition can also cause systemic effects, for instance, fatigue and the potential involvement of other organs in the body. This highlights the need for effective treatment strategies to manage this complex disease.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor

Does Stem Cell Therapy Work for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

In most cases, stem cell therapy works well for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by potentially reducing inflammation, promoting tissue repair, and offering pain relief. However, the effectiveness of stem cell therapy can vary significantly among individuals, and will largely be dependent on factors such as disease severity, overall health, and specific treatment protocols.

Nevertheless, the application of stem cell therapy in treating rheumatoid arthritis has become a focal point of modern medical research, offering a glimmer of hope for patients seeking alternatives to traditional RA treatments. 

This approach utilizes the body’s own regenerative capabilities, with a significant focus on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) due to their ability to differentiate into various cell types, provide immunomodulatory effects, and support tissue repair. 

Indications and Contraindications for Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Indications include but are not limited to severe joint damage, inadequate response to conventional treatments, and a desire to explore regenerative therapy options. Contraindications may involve active infections, cancer, or certain medical conditions.

Indications for Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Severe joint damage
  • Inadequate Response to Standard Treatments
  • Interest in Regenerative Treatment Options
  • Early Disease Stage
  • Chronic Pain and Inflammation

Contraindications for Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Patients with active infections
  • Individuals with a history of cancer during last 5 years
  • Uncontrolled diabetes or cardiovascular disease
  • Severe immunodeficiency disorders

Advantages Of Stem Cell Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stem cell therapy offers these promising advantages, which encompass reduced inflammation, and pain relief. It also includes:

  1. Promoting the repair of damaged joint tissue and improving joint function.
  2. Mesenchymal stem cells have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the chronic inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, potentially leading to decreased pain and swelling.
  3. Stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis is less invasive, involving injections that carry a lower risk of complications and shorter recovery times.
  4. Stem cells can modulate the immune system’s response, which is beneficial in autoimmune diseases like RA.
  5. Stem cell therapy offers a personalized approach to managing rheumatoid arthritis.
  6. Slow down the progression of RA, offering long-term benefits beyond symptom management.

Safety of Stem Cell Therapy and Possible Side Effects

Stem cell therapy, particularly when using the patient’s own cells (autologous transplantation), is generally considered safe with a lower risk of immune rejection and complications.

Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis in Hand

However, some possible side effects of stem cell therapy include:

  1. Infection at the injection site, like any procedure involving injections, there is a risk of infection at the site, although this is relatively rare when performed in a sterile environment.
  2. An immune reaction is also a possible side effect; although less common with autologous (self-derived) stem cells, there is still a slight risk of an immune reaction, especially in allogeneic (donor-derived) stem cell therapy.
  3. The injection site may experience temporary swelling, pain, or redness, typically subsiding within a few days.
  4. The risk of blood clots might be a side effect, as with many medical procedures, there’s a small risk of developing blood clots, especially if pre-existing conditions contribute to clotting risks.
  5. Potential for unwanted tissue growth. There is a theoretical risk that stem cells could differentiate into undesired tissue types or proliferate uncontrollably, although this is extremely rare with current controlled and targeted therapy methods.

You should undergo a thorough medical evaluation and discuss potential risks and side effects with healthcare professionals before proceeding with stem cell therapy. The safety profile of stem cell therapy continues to improve with advancements in medical research and technology.

What Type of Improvements Can I Expect from Stem Cell Therapy?

The improvements you will experience vary, and the extent of improvement depends on your disease characteristics and overall health. When considering stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the outcomes of stem cell therapy are influenced by factors such as the severity of the condition, the specific type of stem cells used, and the overall health of the patient. 

Nevertheless, here are some potential improvements that you might expect from undergoing stem cell therapy for RA:

  1. Decrease in the level of pain and inflammation in the affected joints. Stem cells can modulate the immune system and reduce the chronic inflammation characteristic of RA, thereby alleviating pain.
  2. Improvements in joint function and mobility. This can translate into easier movement and a better quality of life.
  3. Slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis by promoting tissue repair and reducing inflammatory responses.
  4. Relying less on conventional RA medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which can come with significant side effects.
  5. Enhanced the quality of your life, allowing for more active and enjoyable daily activities.

Cost of Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease

The cost of stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can vary widely depending on a multitude of factors, making it challenging to pinpoint a specific price without considering the individual circumstances of each patient. The cost can be anywhere between €7,000 and €25,000. Here are several key factors that influence the cost of stem cell therapy for RA:

  • Type of stem cells used
  • Number of treatment sessions
  • Comprehensive treatment plans

Before proceeding with stem cell therapy, you should thoroughly discuss the potential costs, benefits, and risks with your healthcare provider. 

In conclusion

The premise of using stem cells for RA is not only to alleviate symptoms but also to address the underlying causes of the disease by helping to repair damaged joint tissue and restore function. This approach marks a significant shift from conventional therapies, aiming to offer a more lasting solution to the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis.

If you have ever wondered can stem cells be used for rheumatoid arthritis, stem cells for RA are now a medically practiced treatment.

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You can contact our Medical Advisor to find out about the expected results of stem cell treatment according to your case, its cost, duration, and some other details.

Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor

List of References

  1. Medical News Today. “What to know about stem cell therapy for RA.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325583

  2. What are the consequences of early rheumatoid arthritis for the individual?


  3. The potential of stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


  4. Mesenchymal stem cells, autoimmunity, and rheumatoid arthritis


More sources

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor

Natalia Semeshina
Doctor Lana Reviewer

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