Disc Cartilage Regeneration | Stem Cells for Cartilage Repair, Part 2

Scott Brandt, M.D. Stem Cell Therapy, Stem Cells for Back Pain, Stem Cells for Joint & Soft Tissue Pain, Stem Cells for Low Back

Musculoskeletal disorders and lower back disc cartilage degeneration are a major cause of disability and morbidity globally and result in enormous costs for the health care systems. Degenerative disc disease and disc herniations are the most prevalent causes of back pain. The increase in musculoskeletal disorders among the aging population demonstrates an urgent need for a major change in managing this population.

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Stem Cell Treatment for Low Back Pain Due to Degenerative Disc Disease

New biological therapies that can effectively treat spine degeneration are a high priority in regenerative medicine. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from bone marrow (BM-MSCs) and adipose tissue (AD-MSCs) show considerable promise for lower back disc regeneration. Stem cell therapy offers the most significant therapeutic potential to provide an excellent alternative to joint replacement and surgical fusion.

Low back pain is one of the most significant causes of disability in the developed world, with lifetime prevalence estimated at over 80%. As the population ages, this percentage is likely to increase with the population growth.  In the United States, low back pain is responsible for nearly 149 million lost workdays per year, with total costs estimated at $100-$200 billion a year.

Low back pain affects over 80% of the population.
x-ray stem cell back disc injection

Lateral imaging of the L5-S1 disc during stem cell placement into a patient with discogenic low back pain (x-ray guided stem cell back injection). Excellent spread of contrast is noted into the nucleus of the disc with spread into the posterior annular disc tear.

Primary Cause of Chronic Low Back Pain

Low back pain is a complex and multifactorial entity. There is increasing evidence obtained through imaging studies to suggest that a significant proportion of low back pain is associated with degeneration of the intervertebral disc, and direct clinical evidence implicating disc space narrowing and degeneration as a primary cause of chronic low back pain. Varying degrees of symptoms occur over many years.

Current & Future Treatments for Degenerative Disc Cartilage

stem cells for disc regeneration

For physicians, the challenge has been and remains, to figure out the timing, degree of symptoms and functional loss in order to determine the appropriate time to begin biologic treatment. Current research is now concentrating on the development of more biologic/regenerative therapies to target the underlying cause, begin to repair the degenerative disc, and prevent cartilage degeneration in the early stages of progression.

None of the current invasive surgical methods address the loss of growth factors and the progressive inflammatory environment that takes place in the degenerative disc or the loss of functional native cells and tissues within the disc. Research is focused on biological therapies and regenerative approaches intended to both inhibit breakdown and stimulate matrix or internal disc material production. Cell based therapies have become the primary focus of the current research field to achieve these needs.

Fat-Derived Adult Stem Cells for Disc Cartilage Regeneration

Stem cell therapy aims to repopulate the cells in the degenerative disc and restore functional tissue through matrix synthesis by implanted cells and beneficial influences on native cells. Adult stem cells, or MSC’s, have been proposed as the ideal source for disc regeneration. An increasing number of studies have demonstrated the ability of both bone marrow MSC’s and adipose derived MSC’s to differentiate into discogenic cells.

Of note, adipose-derived (fat-derived) MSC’s produce more appropriate matrix and may thus offer the most appropriate cell source for disc regeneration. The characteristics of fat-derived stem cells have been well studied and have shown better ability to produce cartilage than bone marrow in every measurable parameter. In vivo studies have also demonstrated the ability of transplanted MSC’s to enhance matrix production and increase both disc height and hydration. Human clinical trials have also demonstrated improved pain and disability scores and increased water content in the disc at 12 months after MSC injection.

Additional Regenerative Traits of Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cells have also been shown to communicate with the nucleus pulpusus (NP) cells in a bidirectional manner. It is suggested that implanted cells may influence the existing NP cell function through secretion of bioactive factors such as anabolic growth factors. In addition, the stem cells possess anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic properties which could be used to decrease negative cytokine production and produce a healthier, non-degenerating NP cell.

The prospect of combining biomaterials and adult stem cells leads to an optimistic outlook. Interdisciplinary approaches may lead to significant breakthroughs in regenerating musculoskeletal tissues in the joint and the spine in the near future.

The Future of Spinal Disc Regeneration

Stem cell therapies offer huge potential to revolutionize the treatment of cartilage defects, disc herniations, and disc degeneration. Although enormous clinical progress has been achieved, there remains a wide range of technical hurdles and conceptual challenges to overcome as research progresses in this exciting and rapidly expanding field. Current autologous (from your own body) adult stem cell protocols for the treatment of lower back disc degeneration are showing enormous promise and inspiring back pain patient success stories. As the research continues to expand and offer more profound treatments, we will see a combination of earlier intervention and long term strategies that provide alternatives for invasive back surgery such as spinal fusion or discectomy.

*Individual patient results may vary. Contact us today to find out if stem cell therapy may be able to help you.

stem cells for knee cartilage regeneration

Knee Cartilage Regeneration | Stem Cells for Cartilage Repair, Part 1

For more of Dr. Brandt’s insight on stem cells for cartilage repair, check out the part 1 of this series: stem cells for knee cartilage regeneration.

Looking Forward to an Active Lifestyle Again

Stem Cell Therapy For Degenerating Discs

“I had back pain from 5 degenerating discs. I had 3 consults from different medical institutions and all had said that I would need fusion of 5 discs and 2 rods inserted into my back. I sent my MRI to Dr.Brandt and after review he said he thought he could help. I found Dr. Brandt’s office very helpful and informative. I am currently one out from my 2nd appointment and doing incredibly well. The pain and discomfort are gone ! I am currently engaged in exercise to strengthen my lower back and abdominal muscles. I am looking forward to an active lifestyle again. I selected Thrive MD due to Dr. Brandt’s experience in the stem field. The are many offices and medical centers that are beginning to get involved in the stem cell arena. I wanted a Doctor that has been doing this for a while and getting great results. Dr. Brandt has a kind and caring attitude, as well as his staff. I would highly recommend Thrive MD and already have sent many patients to him.”*

Posted on Vitals.comGoogle reviewsDr. Brian Bouck, Vitals.com, Google, February 2018

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If you believe you or someone you care about could be a candidate for stem cell therapy administered by a trusted clinic, please contact us today.

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Linda Gerrans
Linda Gerrans
19:37 14 Dec 17
When I was told by an orthopedic doctor I needed double knee replacement I chose stem cell therapy instead. Stem cell therapy has helped me get through my days without the pain I was experiencing and enjoy the activities I was unable to because of the pain.
John Beeman
John Beeman
23:05 08 Jan 17
I just wanted to give an update regarding the stem cell procedure performed by Dr. Brandt at Thrive about 3 years ago. My range of motion continues to improve--remarkable at 64.I skied 150k in 5 days last week and never iced my knee once. I can't remember skiing that many feet w/out having to ice in the last 20 years. The knee treated has been without an acl since I was 18 and is pretty severely arthritic,but I am getting better performance now than I have in recent memory. Thank you, Dr. Brandt!!
Lisa Harris
Lisa Harris
15:59 02 Jan 17
After struggling with an Achilles injury for 1 1/2 years and trying everything to heal it - steroid, physical therapy, wearing a boot, no activity, stretching, etc - I decided to have stem cell therapy at Thrive.md. It was a short procedure and an afternoon of post op recovery, which after 6-8 weeks, resulted in a full recovery from my injury. This seemed to finally stimulate blood flow and healing to an injury I had resigned myself to having forever. I highly recommend this procedure for tendon injuries like this one.
Zvezdomir Zamfirov
Zvezdomir Zamfirov
03:55 14 Nov 16
I am a pain management physician myself. I am 52, and physically very active. I still play soccer competitively. Six months ago I suffered a hip injury with a labrum tear. Due to the pre-existing wear and tear, the only conventional treatment, which was offered to me was total hip replacement. I wanted to remain physically active and continue to play sports, so I decided that this is not the best option for me. I choose instead to try stem-cell therapy. Ten days ago I had my procedure done by Dr. Brandt, and since then I have nothing but positive things to say about him and his practice. Everyone in his office was extremely welcoming and put me at ease and comfort about my procedure. The procedure went very smooth. And I did not have ANY post procedure pain or discomfort. I had no need for any pain medication. I was back to work seeing patients on the 2nd day after the procedure. My hip already feels noticeably better. I have the second procedure scheduled in four weeks, and I am confident that in another 3-4 weeks I'll be back playing soccer again. Thank you, Dr. Brandt and team for taking such excellent care of me.
John Reilly
John Reilly
13:44 04 Nov 16
I saw Dr Brandt on 8/8/16 for a lower back stem cell injection. From the injection, I got a serious infection in my lower spine. As a result, I spent 2 days in the Vail hospital and have been on daily IV antibiotics for the past 8 weeks. A few weeks after the injection, I started feeling increased pain which was a different pain than before my injection. It was much sharper and a shooting pain. I communicated this information to Dr Brandt and his staff. There only response and treatment was stronger pain meds. oral and injected steroids (the worst thing to do when an infection is present). The pain became so intense and debilitating, I finally made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Their team quickly discovered from listening to my symptoms and reviewing a new MRI that I had an infection. I also discovered from a search on DORA that over the past 13 years Dr Brandt's has a history of incidents with the DORA which regulates medical professionals. Over this time, his license was suspended for a period of time and is he currently practicing on probation through 2019. At one point, the AG said he was unfit to practice medicine.
Laurel Wilkerson
Laurel Wilkerson
21:22 08 Aug 16
Great job by the Thrive MD team in Edwards. With a torn achilles tendon, I was really opposed to surgery. When I discovered Dr. Brandt and team, I was thrilled. They are most professional and explained every step of the process and procedure for treatment options. I am on the road to recovery, and I am so thankful to have discovered Thrive. Before you let an orthopedic doc operate, take the time to explore and discuss stem cell therapy. Thrive MD made the process easy and convenient. Thanks! One year later update - ankle is doing great. Skied 52 days in 2015-16. Hiking, biking and all are no problem. Great team of caring people who know their business.
Brad Jones
Brad Jones
00:27 19 Feb 16
Dr. Brandt and his entire staff are amazing! Early in the ski season I had a partial tear in my ACL and thought I would be out until the next year for sure. However after consulting with Thrive MD they informed me that I was a good candidate for stem cell therapy. I went through the procedure and went from barely being able to walk with crutches to walking comfortably and normally within three weeks! I was back at work quickly and just got back on the mountain recently. My knee feels very solid and I have ZERO issues with it. Thank you Thrive MD for saving my ski season!
Karen Taylor
Karen Taylor
02:10 09 Dec 15
I am so happy to have found Thrive this past summer. After being told by 3 Dr's that I need a knee replacement I was feeling very discouraged. 2 1/2 years ago I had a very bad skiing accident and destroyed my tibial plateau. After surgery and physical therapy I was no where near where I wanted to be functioning physically. I couldn't hike, ski, or basically do anything active without constant pain. I went to Thrive and got my hormones balanced, got my energy level back up to where I like it to be and had several stem cell treatments on my knee. It was not an instant fix, but over the past 6 months it has continually started to feel better. I just skied 3 hard days in a row in Beaver Creek, with no swelling and very little pain! I am back to functioning at about 80% of my capacity. I'm thrilled with the progress and hope to continue to improve as I continue to be active this winter. I am so happy not to have a knee replacement and to be able to keep my own knee. Thank you Dr. Brandt.
Sylvia Baldwin
Sylvia Baldwin
00:00 26 Apr 15
Dr. Brandt is the best! I've been seeing him altogether for around 15 years now for corticosteroid injections for pain and would never want to see anyone else. He is very skilled with the needle and getting the injections done in exactly the right places. In addition, I've found Dr. Brandt to be a very concerned and caring individual; he's a great listener who clearly gives a lot of thought to what the best approach is going to be in dealing with the situation the patient describes. I've found that he always takes as much time as necessary to assess the situation; dealing with Dr. Brandt is such an entirely different experience than virtually every other meeting I've had with various surgeons and other M.D.'s. His staff is also very friendly, helpful and kind--as I said, he's the best...and well worth the drive to Edwards!
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