If you are suffering from achiness and stiffness in your joints, you might have arthritis, one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States.[1] Arthritis causes swelling in your joints that can lead to restricted motion and debilitating pain that limits mobility and activity.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), a condition in which your joint cartilage breaks down. It is often the result of aging or injury. While OA is typically found in your knees, hips and spine, it can affect any joint.[2]

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, which means the immune system starts attacking healthy cells in your body. RA often affects hands, wrists, feet and knees, but like OA it also can affect any joint. It can also damage organs, including the heart and lungs.[3]

When you are suffering from arthritis that is affecting more than one joint, you have a form of polyarthritis. RA is a common type of polyarthritis, but it can also be caused by lupus, psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis and more.


Regardless of the type of arthritis you may be suffering from, debilitating joint pain and joint stiffness are common symptoms.

Additional symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint tenderness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • A grating feeling when you move the affected joint
  • Bone spurs

Additional symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Joints that feel warm to the touch
  • Fatigue

Traditional Management

There is not yet a cure for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, so traditional management of both conditions involves relieving symptoms through medication, physical therapy and surgery.

Please visit the condition pages for more information on the traditional management of these conditions:

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The use of stem cells has been explored as a management for many diseases, with significant focus placed on autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Read more about how stem cells can help someone with rheumatoid arthritis.

Because these MSCs are able to differentiate (transform) into different types of cells, including cartilage and bone, their role in managing osteoarthritis is the subject of investigation.

Randomized controlled trials of stem cells for osteoarthritis demonstrate efficacy in mild to moderate cases and suggest that the greater the number of stem cells used, the better the results.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/index.htm
  2. National Library of Medicine. Osteoarthritis. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/osteoarthritis.html
  3. National Library of Medicine. PubMed Health. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024678/

Therapeutic application of mesenchymal stem cells in osteoarthritis.

Ruiz M, Cosenza S, Maumus M, Jorgensen C, Noël D.

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2016;16(1):33-42. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2016.1093108. Review.

Adipose Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Based Therapy for Severe Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Phase I Dose-Escalation Trial.

Pers YM, Rackwitz L, Ferreira R, Pullig O, Delfour C, Barry F, Sensebe L, Casteilla L, Fleury S, Bourin P, Noël D, Canovas F, Cyteval C, Lisignoli G, Schrauth J, Haddad D, Domergue S, Noeth U, Jorgensen C; ADIPOA Consortium..

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2016 Jul;5(7):847-56. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2015-0245.

Adipose derived mesenchymal stem cell therapy in the treatment of isolated knee chondral lesions: design of a randomised controlled pilot study comparing arthroscopic microfracture versus arthroscopic microfracture combined with postoperative mesenchymal stem cell injections.

Freitag J, Ford J, Bates D, Boyd R, Hahne A, Wang Y, Cicuttini F, Huguenin L, Norsworthy C, Shah K.

BMJ Open. 2015 Dec 18;5(12):e009332. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009332.

Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells With Microfracture Versus Microfracture Alone: 2-Year Follow-up of a Prospective Randomized Trial.

Koh YG, Kwon OR, Kim YS, Choi YJ, Tak DH.

Arthroscopy. 2016 Jan;32(1):97-109. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2015.09.010.

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for knee osteoarthritis: 5 years follow-up of three patients.

Davatchi F, Sadeghi Abdollahi B, Mohyeddin M, Nikbin B.

Int J Rheum Dis. 2016 Mar;19(3):219-25. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.12670

Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis With Allogeneic Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Vega A, Martín-Ferrero MA, Del Canto F, Alberca M, García V, Munar A, Orozco L, Soler R, Fuertes JJ, Huguet M, Sánchez A, García-Sancho J.

Transplantation. 2015 Aug;99(8):1681-90. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000000678.

Intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a proof-of-concept clinical trial.

Jo CH, Lee YG, Shin WH, Kim H, Chai JW, Jeong EC, Kim JE, Shim H, Shin JS, Shin IS, Ra JC, Oh S, Yoon KS.

Stem Cells. 2014 May;32(5):1254-66. doi: 10.1002/stem.1634.

Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with autologous mesenchymal stem cells: a pilot study.

Orozco L, Munar A, Soler R, Alberca M, Soler F, Huguet M, Sentís J, Sánchez A, García-Sancho J.

Transplantation. 2013 Jun 27;95(12):1535-41. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e318291a2da.

Exp Ther Med. 2016 Nov; 12(5): 3390–3400.

Published online 2016 Oct 11. doi:  10.3892/etm.2016.3791

Efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells in treating patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: A meta-analysis

Gang-Hua CuiYang Yang WangChang-Jun LiChen-Hui Shi, and Wei-Shan Wang