It seems with every New Year, there’s a new possibility for a medical breakthrough that could change a particular disease or injury as we know it. For 2014, I predict that the buzzword for arthritis treatment will be “biologics.” These therapies that are derived from the patient’s own body offer an alternative to replacing joints, and instead can actually help regenerate cartilage and restore joint health.
Treatment without Surgery
The idea of biologic treatments could change the outlook for arthritis sufferers who, in the past, felt that they could only look forward to inevitable joint replacement. In most cases, biologic treatment can mitigate the need for that surgery.
Yet, it’s important for treatment providers to explain the details of biologic treatments, ensuring that patients are educated about their options and maintain realistic expectations without being misled. As with any exciting new treatment, there are always practitioners who promise far too much.
Orthopedic Physician vs. Orthopedic Surgeon
Despite my designation and training as a board certified orthopedic surgeon, I am first and foremost an orthopedic physician. Not all orthopedic treatments need to revolve around surgery, and the last 10 or 15 years have proven that beyond a doubt. The evolution of these treatments such as stem cell injections, PRP treatment and viscosupplementation will only continue to evolve into the future. Already, nonsurgical options for arthritis treatment are becoming an accepted first line of defense rather than surgery, as is the focus on individualized treatment for every patient rather than a catch-all, indiscriminate approach.