Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis in the knee, hip, shoulder and ankle joints can be sustainably treated through therapy with stem cells. This way you are sustainably pain-free and avoid prosthetic replacement in the long term.

Stem cell therapy can provide lasting treatment for complaints in the knee, hip and ankle joints, so that you are permanently pain-free and can avoid a prosthesis in the long term.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells from which different types of tissue can develop. They therefore do not yet have a function and transform into the same type of cell as the contact cell when they come into contact with a special tissue, for example.

What is stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy is a type of therapy that makes use of the body's own resources and properties described above for healing. Foreign substances are not required for this.

Stem cell therapy, for example, is an ultra-modern form of therapy that offers many seriously ill patients the prospect of being effective without surgery or medication.

In stem cell therapy, cells are taken either from the bone marrow or the subcutaneous fatty tissue and injected into the target organ structure. Stem cells from the bone marrow, which have blood-forming functions, are usually used. Harvesting from other tissues is also possible, because stem cells are found in most tissues of the human body.

The ability of stem cells to renew and differentiate can be used medically to treat various diseases.

A transfer of stem cells is not only possible from a foreign donor. In autologous stem cell therapy, the cells are obtained from the patient, who then receives these cells back after they have undergone a preparation process.

We obtain the stem cells from abdominal fat, as many studies show that the concentration of stem cells in fatty tissue is up to 500 times higher than in bone marrow.

We obtain the stem cells from your subcutaneous fat tissue under local anaesthesia through a small liposuction of about 30 ml. By centrifuging the suspension, we obtain about 1.5 ml of stem cells. This contains approximately 1,200,000-1,500,000 stem cells. These stem cells are then injected into the recipient's tissue after a local anaesthetic.

How do stem cells work against osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of a joint is destroyed and the bones are affected by rubbing against each other.

The affected persons suffer pain and lose their freedom of movement. This is because the joints become inflamed and swollen. The knee is often affected, but the finger and ankle joints are also common weak points.

In principle, all joints can develop osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy is a new and promising form of treatment for osteoarthritis.

In our orthopaedic area, the treatment of the joints is in the foreground. In addition to renewing the tissue, inflammation is also inhibited. Through this combination, this therapy leads to pain relief and thus also to an increased ability to bear weight again. 

Treatment with stem cells improves the natural cartilage layer and thus the function of the joint. This way you are sustainably pain-free, reduce inflammation factors and avoid prosthetic replacement in the long term.

How effective is the therapy for osteoarthritis?

A 2019 review* commissioned by the Korean Ministry of Health summarises the most important studies on osteoarthritis therapy with stem cells.

All 203 patients who took part in the six studies suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee joint of varying severity. They received stem cell therapy to the knee.

The knee joints are among the most frequently affected joints when it comes to osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy on the knee ensures that patients can walk again without pain, because the stem cell transplant supports and regenerates the inflamed tissue. The released growth factors trigger the rebuilding of the tissue and inhibit the painful inflammation. Side effects are not to be expected.

*Kim et al: Intra-articular Injection of Culture-Expanded Mesenchymal Stem Cells Without Adjuvant Surgery in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, 2019.

What does treatment against osteoarthritis look like in practice?

For osteoarthritis treatment, the stem cells are extracted from the fatty tissue or bone marrow and prepared. Then they are infiltrated into the successful tissue. They take effect there shortly after the treatment. Patients should be able to feel a clear improvement just a few days later.

Where can stem cell therapy be used?

So far, stem cell therapy has found little application in everyday medicine. But it is not only successful in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

The healthy cells can also help against many other diseases. A common area of application so far is blood cell donation for leukaemia therapy. Stem cells can also be of good service for skin burns, as they stimulate cell production in the injured area again. Recently, stem cells have also been used to treat eye damage.

Medical research is currently making intensive efforts to open up further areas of application and to make the use of stem cells useful against other diseases. Research is in full swing in the field of cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and paraplegia. Stem cells are even said to be able to repair diseased hearts. The stem cells are taken from the bone marrow of the patient. The future will show how successful the method is.

Dr Olaf Beck treats the following diseases with stem cell therapy:

  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Hip osteoarthritis
  • Shoulder arthrosis
  • Ankle joint arthrosis


How is a meniscus tear treated?

First of all, it depends on the degree of cross-linking of the meniscus tear. The damaged parts of the torn meniscus can be removed or sutured after diagnosis. During removal, the frayed parts of the meniscus caused by the tear are sheared off. This allows the rough surface of the torn meniscus to be smoothed. In a few rare cases, the meniscus tear is restored by a transplantation, which is sewn in place and replaced by donor meniscus or biological tissue substitute.

Can a meniscus tear heal by itself? 

Whether the meniscus tear can heal on its own is also decided here on the basis of the degree of injury. You should know that the meniscus contains different zones. Some areas are well supplied with blood and other regions, which are more central in the knee joint, are not.

If the tear is in the region of the meniscus with good blood supply and it does not go too deep into the areas with poor blood supply, it can heal conservatively.

How long does it take for a torn meniscus to heal?

How long the meniscus takes to heal depends on the type and method of treatment and on the individual case of each patient. The exact type of injury and the location of the tear are decisive. In most cases, the meniscus takes 6 to 14 weeks to heal.

How quickly does a meniscus tear need to be operated on?

The pain and inability to move can be painful after a meniscus tear. The knee can usually no longer be fully extended or bent. You should therefore see a doctor as soon as possible to discuss the next steps.

What happens if a torn meniscus is not treated?

If you decide against the recommended treatment for the meniscus tear, this will inevitably lead to cartilage damage and arthrosis. The tear will be further damaged with every movement until walking will only be possible with great difficulty.


1. risks?

Postoperative effect. If this occurs, prosthesis and joint inner mucosa must be removed. Knee is then irrigated several times and then a "spacer" is then inserted (prosthesis made of bone cement containing an antibiotic). This spacer remains in the body for an average of 6 months, patient is not allowed to buy 6 months. After the 6 months, it is replaced with a full prosthesis.

2. complications?

- Incorrect placement of the prosthesis:
- too large or too small implants

Movement restrictions, in the worst case worse after surgery than before.

3. rehabilitation?

6-7 days in hospital. There are rehab facilities or outpatient rehab (4 hours a day in a hospital and treat there) → but for people living alone is not an option. 

4. service life and durability?

Depends on several factors: 

  1. Quality
  2. Medication 
  3. Gender and load 
  4. Positioning of the load, loose prostheses must be replaced. It is advisable to check the prosthesis every 2 years, so that any loosening can be seen and prevented.

5. sports?

Cycling, swimming, no problem. Stop-and-go sports, both shear forces on the knee joint, should be avoided if possible. 

6. the right time for the prosthesis?

This is achieved when the patient says it cannot get any worse. It may be that after the implementation of the knee prosthesis the complaints are worse than before. If a patient can walk 5 km before the surgery, he may be able to walk only 500 m after the surgery. Therefore, the right time is only when there is no other way out. 

7. duration of sick leave?

Sedentary work them earlier than stressful work. On average, it is 8-12 weeks.

8. how long do you walk with crutches?

After an arthroscopy with degenerative procedures, the patient must walk with supports for an average of 4 weeks, after which, depending on the findings, a splint takes over this function. However, if the meniscus is still implanted or if the upper and lower legs have cartilage damage on the opposite side and this has been repaired, this time is extended by 6-6 weeks, depending on the patient's body weight. 

9. what to discuss with doctor before knee surgery?

As a patient, you should leave the consultation with the feeling that you know that and why surgery may be necessary. This is the only way you can go into surgery with a good feeling. Therefore, you should definitely ask what the alternatives to surgery are (and why they may not be an option for you). You should also ask what the possible risks of the operation are - more on this below - as well as when the best time for the operation is. If you are still unsure after the surgery consultation, get a second opinion.

10. Should I get a second opinion before knee surgery?

A surgical intervention on the knee should be avoided if it can be avoided. On the one hand, every patient prefers to avoid going to the hospital, and on the other hand, every operation represents a limited, but nevertheless existing risk that should only be taken if other forms of therapy have been exhausted. This applies in particular to the question of whether an artificial knee joint needs to be used.

The knee joint is the joint in the body that is subjected to the greatest stress. In this respect, problems at the knee joint occur frequently. There are many things you can do to relieve the joint. Avoiding sports that put a strain on the knee in favor of physical activities that are easy on the knee and targeted exercises for the knee (physiotherapy); medication, bandages, orthoses - all of these can help to reduce pain and relieve and stabilize the knees.

Even when surgery is unavoidable, it is often not necessary to use an artificial knee joint. Today, there are already procedures that can even repair extensive cartilage damage with a transplant (cartilage cell transplantation).

If your treating physician advises you to undergo surgery, then it makes sense to obtain a second opinion. Often, obtaining a second opinion is also covered by health insurance. Of course, there are clear criteria as to when which procedure should be used. But there are also borderline cases where different specialists may well have different opinions. So if you want to be sure whether surgery is really necessary in your case, you should definitely get a second opinion from an expert in the field.

But always keep in mind that risk also brings opportunity; avoiding one risk can lead to another. Going without knee surgery may not only result in permanent pain and reduced mobility in the knee joint and, therefore, quality of life. It can also have repercussions on the leg and hip, should the pain lead to incorrect stresses in the knee.

11. what is the recovery process?

This question is very individual and cannot be answered in general terms. It depends on the individual case and in particular on the type of surgical intervention. In any case, it will take several weeks before you can walk again without crutches after a knee operation, and it usually takes up to six months, and in some cases even 12 months, before you can put full weight on your knee again.

In the case of a cartilage cell transplant, for example, the knee can usually only be loaded normally again one year after the operation. The recovery process for cruciate ligament tears is also very long; full weight-bearing is not permitted until six months at the earliest. This is more difficult to assess in the case of meniscus surgery. Whatever knee surgery you have, it is very important that physiotherapy begins immediately after the operation and that the recovery process is well supervised by specialists. Therefore, do not miss the follow-up examinations under any circumstances. They help to ensure that the

Whatever knee surgery you get, it is very important that immediately after the operation physiotherapy begins and that the recovery process is professionally well accompanied. Therefore, do not miss the follow-up examinations under any circumstances. They help to ensure that the operation is worthwhile for you and that you can hopefully move (almost) pain-free again.

"After other orthopaedic surgeons talked about hip surgery, I started looking for other options. That's how I found the orthopaedic surgeon who does stem cell therapy treatment: Dr Beck! Eight weeks ago, Dr. Beck gave me stem cell treatment on both hips. Now I'm mobile again, I ride my bike a lot and I can go for walks again."

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What my patients say

"By chance, I found Arthoprax during a Google search. Despite landing from abroad and the complicated diagnosis (cartilage damage to the kneecap), we were immediately impressed by Dr Beck's expertise and rigour. Dr. Beck learned the complex procedure and performed it in an exemplary manner. Dr Beck is thorough like no other orthopaedic surgeon. At our first appointment, he spent almost 45 minutes with us discussing the MRI results and x-rays. What struck us immediately was his holistic vision: the cause may not have been athletic stress (marathon running), but a misalignment of the hip or even a genetic defect. The day after the first meeting I asked for an appointment for surgery and got it within two weeks (Beethovenklinik in Cologne). Immediately after the surgery, at 6:30 in the morning, Dr. Beck came by the clinic. The next day he showed us photos on DVD of the various cartilage wear points. He mentioned in passing that the operation had taken two hours because he had had to find solutions for other defect sites. This practice is highly recommended for athletes. Now I have renewed hope that I can save my knee joint and resume long-distance running. The experience with Dr Beck and his team was just great."  

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"Dr Beck is a very good orthopaedist, always nice and friendly. He also takes time for his patients. I had very severe knee pain and also had a knee arthroscopy in 2011 without much success, but another doctor. After examination and MRI and consultation, Dr Beck explained the new treatment with collagen in great detail and answered every question with patience. When I decided to go for it, the operation by Dr Beck followed. I could hardly believe it, there was almost no pain and the physiotherapy was problem-free. I can only recommend Dr Beck. But also his practice team is always helpful and very friendly. Thank you again for the loving care".

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After detailed questioning about the complaints in the knee, the examination and an initial diagnosis followed, which was confirmed by an MRI. A good and detailed consultation followed, during which medical alternatives were discussed. After a period of reflection and further questions, which were answered patiently and in understandable terms, I decided on the "collagen gel" method to treat the cartilage defect in the course of an arthroscopy. The operation, performed by Dr. Beck himself, went smoothly. There was no pain in the knee after the operation. The follow-up treatment with the appropriate therapies (lymph drainage, gymnastics) was very successful. I am completely satisfied! Thank you Dr. Beck and his team!"  

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All treatments

Of course, we also offer other treatments. Here is a brief overview of all of them: