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Will it ever be possible for people with osteoarthritis of the knees to have cartilage transplants?

Q) Will it ever be possible for people who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knees to have cartilage transplants, instead of knee replacements? It would be far cheaper and not so invasive. Presumably, it would last much longer too.
Jackie (Winter 2016)

A) Stem cell transplants that grow new cartilage on the surface of joints are on the horizon. Studies funded by Arthritis Research UK are at the forefront of research in this area.

That said, the treatment is still in its experimental phase and it's likely to be years before it's proven safe and effective and therefore made widely available as a treatment option for people with osteoarthritis. It'll also be an extremely expensive treatment, at least at first.

Osteoarthritis isn't just a disease of the cartilage. It affects the whole joint, causing muscle weakness and bone changes, as well as alterations to the way the brain processes pain messages over time. And we must remember we already have an effective treatment for osteoarthritis that helps the whole joint and the way that the brain deals with pain. It’s free, safe and helps your heart and lungs too. Yes, you guessed it: exercise.

Though it can feel counter-intuitive to move your joints when they feel sore, and exercise may be the very last thing you want to do, moving more really does work. Read our exercise and arthritis information for advice on choosing safe and effective exercise that works for you.

This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Winter 2016 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to

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