Lipofilling Provides Long-Lasting Relief in Finger Osteoarthritis

January 17, 2023

Summary: Osteoarthritis of finger joints is a highly debilitating condition. Pharmacological drugs can provide pain relief in the condition, but they are unsuitable for preventing disease progression. Thus, patients have to take medications daily. Now a new study shows that injecting fat tissues into the finger joints may provide prolonged relief. Furthermore, these fat tissues are extracted from the patient’s other body parts, making the treatment a highly safe procedure.

Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of joint pains. It is a disease of wear and tear that especially affects weight-bearing joints like knees and hips. The disease is more likely to occur in those living with some inherent weaknesses, metabolic disorders, and more. Most people diagnosed with the condition are middle-aged or older adults. Though osteoarthritis in fingers is relatively less common, it is not uncommon.

Since osteoarthritis is a disease of older adults and a wear and tear condition, it is difficult to treat. The changes that have occurred in the joints are almost irreversible. It means people affected by the condition must live with the pain lifelong. Chronic pain associated with joint disorders may be quite debilitating.

Osteoarthritis progresses slowly over the years. Though the condition may not be reversible, doctors can treat and provide chronic pain relief associated with the condition. However, most people will have to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs daily.

The New Treatment Provides Prolonged Relief for Osteoarthritis in Fingers

Taking daily painkillers helps, but it is not easy to use medications daily. Moreover, pharmacological drugs may cause many side effects.Therefore, researchers experimented with a new kind of safe and minimally invasive treatment: lipofilling. It is a procedure in which doctors inject a patient’s own fatty tissues inside the joints. Then, they retrieve these fatty tissues using liposuction from other body parts like the upper thighs.

The procedure is safe as doctors inject a minute amount of fatty tissue into the joint. They inject merely one milliliter of fatty tissue into the arthritic finger joint. In the new study, researchers found that this simple procedure was amazingly effective, providing almost instant relief. Patients had to wear a splint and take painkillers for a week, and after this, they experienced profound relief. Moreover, the procedure did not cause any complications.

The present study was done in 25 finger joints. Researchers regularly followed up with the patients for 44 months, paying particular attention to pain scores. Researchers say that the benefit from the treatment was significant.

Before treatment, patients had a pain score of 6 out of ten, and after treatment the pain score was merely 0.5, which is just a mild sense of discomfort. Researchers say that they have been amazed by such results. Moreover, the treatment was especially good for reducing pain scores.

Additionally, the patient also demonstrated improvement in joint health and functioning. For example, their pinch grip strength almost doubled from a median of 2 kg to 4.3 kg. This is a massive difference. It means that treatment not only provided pain relief but also enhanced the functionality and quality of life of people living with chronic pain due to finger osteoarthritis.

In recent years, lipofilling has gained significant popularity. It is especially used in various cosmetics and reconstructive procedures. Lipofilling is so good for osteoarthritis as it may help reverse the disease process. Animal studies show that these fat cells are rich in mesenchymal stromal cells (kind of stem cells). Thus, lipofilling promotes tissue regeneration in arthritic joints.

However, researchers admit that they still need to carry out more studies to understand the benefits of such a treatment fully. For example, they need to carry out studies using control groups. Additionally, they also need to understand the long-term benefits of such a treatment.

Nonetheless, there is no doubt that this treatment is highly promising. It is minimally invasive, safe, and easy to carry out, but it helps preserve the joint structure and promote regenerative processes. Therefore, many people living with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis may expect a benefit from such treatment. In addition, it may help them start living without their daily dose of painkillers.

The Takeaway

While mentioning chronic pain, it might not be a mere discomfort, rather a complex underlying medical ailment that calls for a specialist treatment. Hence, Padda Institute of Pain management offers a comprehensive complex regional pain syndrome treatment to suit your needs. Schedule your appointment today and get immediate chronic pain relief.

By Gurpreet Singh Padda, MD, MBA, MHP