World champion kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter Miriam Nakamoto will receive stem cell therapy for a severe knee injury, it has been announced. Nakamoto’s treatment will be sponsored by UFC commentator and comedian Joe Rogan, after he interviewed her last year and learned about her struggle.
Back in 2013, Nakamoto sustained a serious tear on her meniscus cartilage during a fight and has been out of action ever since.
She has attempted several comebacks over the years but has always been held back by the grade 3 meniscus lesion, which cannot be repaired by traditional surgery. Years ago, she attempted to fundraise $30,000 for a stem cell therapy but fell short of her target.
What will surgery involve?
Nakamoto will travel to the Stem Cell Institute in Panama, where there have been more than 10,000 stem cell procedures since 2006.
She will be overseen by Dr Neil Riordan, a stem cell expert who established a clinic in panama to offer stem cell therapies almost fifteen years ago.
Riordan uses stem cells to treat a wide array of conditions – from arthritis to autism, heart failure to spinal cord injuries.
Nakamoto will have her torn meniscus cartilage removed before receiving a stem cell injection into her knee, with the aim of stimulating cartilage to regrow and regenerate the meniscus.
Coincidentally, Riordan received similar treatment himself back in 2013 to treat a 10-year-old knee injury of his own.
What is a meniscus tear?
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions and stabilises the knee joint. It is positioned on top of the tibia and helps the femur to glide smoothly when the knee moves.
A tear can occur due to a sharp twist, and often leads to knee arthritis.
It is thought that 40% of people over 65 have a meniscus tear, because blood flow to the knee joint slows down after we reach 40 and therefore inhibits repair and regrowth.
What are the symptoms of a meniscus tear?
A tear can be incredibly painful. Along with pain, it can also cause swelling. People with a tear might also find it difficult to bend or straighten their leg, and could experience a popping sound when they move.
How can stem cells treat a meniscus tear?
A paper published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that a single stem cell injection after meniscus knee surgery could not only provide pain relief, but also support meniscus regrowth.
Patients received a single injection of donated adult stem cells, and improved meniscus size by up to 15% within a year.
“The results of this study suggest that mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to improve the overall condition of the knee joint,” said Dr. Vangsness, who authored the study. “It begs the question: What if we give a series of injections?”
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