During the week, my evenings look a little like this: I leave the office around 5:00 PM, arrive home between 5:30 PM and 5:35 PM, my fiancé and I sit down to eat dinner, and by 6:30 PM we are on the couch tuning in to our favorite newscast, NBC Nightly News, with Lester Holt. I believe staying up-to-date on what is happening around the world is one of the most important things we, as humans, can do. So, when I saw a story about breakthrough research for arthritis sufferers I turned the volume up a few notches and what I heard was music to my ears.
But why should I care about arthritis? After all I’m 22 years old and arthritis is for “old” people, right? Stop right there – you’re wrong. My sister, Cymric, is a perfectly healthy 25 year old and suffers from arthritis. She has already had surgery on her big toe to alleviate pain; and will one day have to have surgery on her other toe and, possibly, her thumbs. So, this story hit home in more way than one. Luckily, I work at a materials testing lab that serves medical device and pharmaceutical companies, so I knew I had to sit down and share this story with you, our beloved audience.
Recently, the FDA approved a new implant to help patients who suffer from arthritis. The synthetic cartilage implant, called The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant, is made from the same material as contact lenses and acts as a cushion for the joint. The benefit is increased mobility and shorter recovery time. Typically, when a person needs surgery for arthritis, doctors simply fuse the bones together, but this decreases mobility. Another option is arthoplasty, which is what Cymric had done. The recovery time for arthoplasty or fusing bones together is about 12 weeks – which is how long it took Cymric to begin wearing normal shoes and feeling back to normal post-surgery. Right now in the United States, The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant is only approved to be used in big toes. However, in Europe, doctors are using these implants in thumbs and knees.
According to Podiatry Today, “The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant is a cylindrical plug that surgeons implant into the joint surface adjacent to intact cartilage. The implant is highly wear-resistant, thus avoiding the formation of wear debris that can lead to macrophage activation, release of inflammatory mediators, bone resorption and implant loosening. The material is biocompatible and has shown no systemic irritation in over 10 years of clinical use. The material is synthetic and carries no risk of disease transmission.”
People like my sister who did not have the option for this revolutionary implant at the time of surgery may have to have repeat surgery years down the road, meaning her surgery was only a temporary fix. However, this new implant may very well present a life-long solution, which would alleviate the stress of future pain and surgeries. Arthritis sufferers who have The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant have reported great success: 91 percent of patients have reported reduced pain, and patients have reported a 128 percent improvement in the ability to play sports and engage in activities.
Arthritis impacts 54 million Americans each year – and Cymric is one of those 54 million. My family would have never imagined that at 25 years old, she would be suffering from debilitating pain in her feet and hands. Innovations like The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant give my family, and many others, hope that arthritis research is taking a step in the right direction to make life better for millions around the world.