Most Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, a majority of individuals will even miss work sooner or later because of back pain and disc herniations. Doctors and patients are always on the lookout for new and effective treatments, and stem cell treatment is a promising new method that could bring much-needed relief to millions of people suffering from chronic pain. If stem cell for back pain is as effectual as it appears it will be, it could even become instrumental in lessening the opioid epidemic currently causing the death of thousands of people in the US and harming many more.
Indeed, overdoses from prescribed opioids have exploded in the last 20 years as increasingly more people have become addicted to drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone. These drugs are essential to many people in relieving their chronic pain, but at a significant cost – they are extremely addictive and can easily lead to overdose.
Stem cells may not only relieve the opioid crisis but also reduce or eliminate pain in many patients with back conditions. Each dose contains around six million cells and is injected into damaged discs. These special cells reduce inflammation and secrete factors that promote the rebuilding of damaged tissues. Patients overwhelmingly report substantial and long-lasting relief after receiving this treatment.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells found in the body that have not yet transformed to perform their intended function. The hypothesis is that when injected into a damaged disc, these cells may become cartilage cells and help the disc regenerate, alleviating the pain associated with degeneration. Stem cells can be harvested from adults, so patients who are concerned about the use of embryonic stem cells needn’t be.
We now understand that system-wide inflammation plays a more prominent role in degenerative disc disease and other causes of back pain than previously thought. Stem cells can secrete molecules that help regulate the overactive inflammatory response in a damaged or injured area. They can also help improve disc height and water content, which can encourage healing of fissures and the production of healthy new bone cells and cartilage tissue.
In essence stem cells are “blank” cells; they are primary human cells that that are capable of giving rise to various types of cells within the body. Stem cells can help create new cells in healthy tissue and may even help repair injured or damaged tissue as well. When stem cells divide, they form progenitor cells, which can become more specialized cells such as red blood cells, brain cells, or – most importantly to orthopedic surgeons – bone or cartilage cells.
Stem cell treatment is still at an experimental stage at this point, and most of these procedures are performed as part of controlled clinical trials at research centers. However, it is expected that with increased understanding, this therapy will become increasingly commonplace. Conditions that may indicate stem cell for back pain include bone fractures, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and more.
Stem cell treatment is a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure with most patients able to return home the same day. Downtime is minimal as well. First, we perform water-assisted fat harvesting to obtain a sufficient amount of fat tissue. Then, we isolate the unique blend of stem cells and regenerative cells found in fat tissue and prepare it for delivery using a unique cell-processing system. This part of the process takes a little over an hour. The injections themselves are performed by expertly-trained orthopedists who use 2D fluoroscopic or ultrasound guidance to determine the correct placement of the cells. Or, the cells may be administered intravenously, depending on the specific circumstances.
Good Candidates for Stem Cell Treatment
An increasing number of patients and doctors are turning to stem cell therapy to shorten recuperation times and help people return to the activities they enjoy more quickly. This therapy can be successful in treating joint damage from trauma, injuries to tendons, ligaments, or cartilage, early-stage arthritis, and more. The cells are obtained from your own fat or bone marrow.
Good candidates for stem cell treatment include individuals who have been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, tendonitis, cartilage or ligament tears, or any musculoskeletal injury that has not responded to more conservative measures such as ice, rest, pain medication, and physical therapy. People who choose stem cell treatment for back pain are also often those who prefer to postpone surgery or avoid it altogether.
If you are interested in learning more about how stem cell therapy might be able to help you, schedule a consultation with us today.