To treat osteoarthritis, injecting one's own fat into painful joints could be a radical new treatment, according to a new claim by surgeons.
In the trial carried out at the King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Saudi Arabia, the jabs, which provide lubrication inside the joint to improve function and reduce the pain and stiffness, are being given to 100 patients with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis.
‘Injecting one's own fat into painful joints could provide lubrication inside the joint to improve function and reduce the pain and stiffness in people suffering from osteoarthritis.’
The small amount of donor fat is taken from the patient's own body, selected according to their own wishes and fat availability, with the entire procedure performed as daycare surgery under local anaesthetic and sedation. During the surgery, the fat is obtained and prepared, then injected into the joint cavity of the osteoarthritic knee. Patients are discharged soon afterwards with antibiotics and painkillers, then followed up to see if joint function has improved and whether there is a reduction in pain and stiffness.
Lead researcher said that like a car gearbox, joints work best when they have good levels of lubrication, and it is normally provided by synovial, a thick gel-like material. In osteoarthritis sufferers, one element of this fluid, hyaluronic acid, does not work properly. Some research suggests improving lubrication with injections of hyaluronic acid.
The researchers believe that a simple injection of fat will improve chronic osteoarthritis and they are using the self-lubricating effect of patients' own fat to improve function and reduce pain. The trial results will be reported in the British Medical Journal