I’ve Got Osteoarthritis: Is Alpha 2 Macroglobulin Therapy Right For Me?
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis—a condition in which protective cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down over a period of time (hence the nickname “wear-and-tear” arthritis). Approximately 27 million people in the United States alone suffer pain, swelling and stiffness from this widespread condition, which is exacerbated by obesity, past injuries, and—especially—age. Older adults live with osteoarthritis more than any other segment of the population, as our joints sustain damage and wear out cumulatively as the years go by.
Osteoarthritis can occur in any of the body’s joints; with hands, knees, spine, and hips being the most common locations. The condition often takes a long time to develop, resulting in a situation where it’s not diagnosed until pain and other debilitating symptoms are already affecting quality of life. And, unlike other conditions in which pain abates during the healing process, osteoarthritis is notorious for unresolved, chronic pain—intermittent or constant—contributing to overall disability for the patient.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Conservative treatments ranging from over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, to physical therapy and gentle exercise such as yoga can be helpful for certain cases. Some patients also turn to alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and nutritional supplements, for relief. But for advanced symptoms, some osteoarthritis sufferers feel they must resort to surgery in an attempt to manage their pain.
Understandably, many patients do not wish to undergo invasive treatment for their osteoarthritis, but find that the more conservative approaches simply aren’t working to control their symptoms. For those who seek a plan that is both non-invasive and effective, there is a newer route available: Alpha 2 Macroglobulin treatment, which is a regenerative orthopedic procedure that both alleviates pain and slows the progression of osteoarthritis—potentially eliminating or postponing the need for surgery down the line.
Alpha 2 Macroglobulin: The Benefits
What is Alpha 2 Macroglobulin (A2M) therapy, exactly? For starters, A2M is a naturally occurring protein manufactured in the liver and found in blood plasma. This protein has the ability to harness and inhibit specific enzymes called proteases that contribute to the breakdown of joint cartilage by eroding the collagen within the cartilage. Once these enzymes are snared and deactivated, the body naturally disposes of them, as well the A2M that “captured” them.
It should come as no surprise that healthy joints generally have a strong level of A2M present, as it is integral in making things difficult for the destructive enzymes to do their work. It also stands to reason that adding more of it to joints that are already compromised should assist in halting the progression of arthritis, as well as its disagreeable symptoms.
In fact, a study out of Brown University shows just this, proving in an animal test that an injection of supplemental, concentrated A2M provided cartilage protection and stopped further progression of the arthritic condition.
A2M Therapy: What Can I Expect?
These findings have proved invaluable in developing A2M therapy for human patients, which in turn is proving to be an increasingly attractive option for many sufferers of osteoarthritis. Since A2M is naturally made by the body, it can easily be harvested from the patient via a small, standard-style blood draw.
A specialized machine is then used, which specifically super-concentrates A2M via a filtration process. When the A2M is ready, it can be injected directly into the joint, as well as soft tissues surrounding, or as the physician determines is optimal for the individual treatment.
For those considering the therapy, the injection procedure is efficient, non-time-consuming (in most cases, less than an hour), and is safe—since the A2M is a naturally occurring substance in the body, there is no risk of harmful rejection reactions. Most patients can return to work and regular daily activities immediately following an injection.
Although total healing time is subjective to each individual case, the majority of patients undergoing therapy should experience anti-inflammatory effects and pain reduction within days of the injection. A2M’s structure additionally promotes tissue growth, which cumulatively as part of an ongoing treatment plan, can help to restore the damaged joint in question.
Taking all of these points into consideration—is A2M regenerative treatment right for you and your specific case of osteoarthritis? All cases are different and have their own unique factors that affect an overall treatment plan. However, due to its research-backed results and natural composition, you and your physician may decide A2M is a safe and highly effective method for managing your chronic symptoms and putting your joints on a path to recovery. A2M is also a component within other regenerative treatments that utilize blood or bone marrow as the basis for treating injured tissue. Your doctor will help determine the best course based on your unique situation.