stem cell injections for back pain

The Secrets to Effective Stem Cell Injections for Back Pain

Scott Brandt, M.D. Stem Cell Therapy, Stem Cells for Back Pain, Stem Cells for Facet Joints, Stem Cells for Low Back

Back pain is an extremely common condition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a myriad of reasons why an individual may experience back pain, and there are numerous potential treatment options for each condition. However, stem cell therapy for back pain can provide many individuals who are suffering from chronic back pain with a viable alternative to surgery. More specifically, stem cell injections for back pain can help individuals who have suffered from issues such as spinal facet disease and degenerative disc disease –– as well as individuals who have experienced acute injuries to their back. In this article, we’ll review the important facts about stem cell therapy for back pain so that you can make an informed decision for your own health and wellness:

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How Back & Spinal Disc Injections Have Evolved

Live X-ray guidance and ultrasound have allowed targeting of very specific spinal locations.

First we must clarify that spinal injection work for the treatment and diagnosis of spinal disorders has evolved over the past 25 years. During this time, the advent and common standard of using image-guided injections –– live X-ray guidance –– have allowed the targeting of very specific spinal locations. Medical professionals can now deliver anesthetics, steroids, and specific pain medication to delicate areas of the spine.

Today, there are many different types of back pain injections, such as epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks, and facet joint injections. There is also a wide variety of spinal injections, which are utilized specifically to determine where a patient’s pain is emanating from. These include injections called discograms, which allow for the determination of a specific diagnosis and recommendation of a proper treatment plan.

Contact our Vail or Denver office to find out if you could be a candidate for stem cell therapy.

Stem Cell Therapy & Stem Cell Back Injections

Image-guided injection work and diagnostic injections have allowed interventional pain physicians to accurately identify spinal areas of pain beyond what can be gleaned from imaging data such as MRIs and X-rays. Advancements in regenerative medicine, combined with skilled live-image guidance, have opened the door to utilizing new biologic and cell therapies to minimally invasively treat pain conditions that previously only had invasive surgical treatment options. 

Stem cell injections do not use steroids or pain medication.

Unlike common back pain injections, stem cell injections for the treatment of degenerative disc disease do not use steroids or pain medication to treat the target site. Instead, adipose-derived stem cells and bone marrow concentrate used in regenerative stem cell injections encourage new cell growth and may help heal the damaged or injured area. Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive and regenerative treatment. For a more in-depth look at how stem cells work, you can check out this article

Note also that stem cell therapy for back pain eliminates many of the drawbacks associated with surgery. Stem cell injections are less invasive, require less time for rehabilitation, and often provide long-lasting benefits that surgery simply cannot offer.

Remember that these treatments are used to specifically target and treat the source of the pain –– not just the symptoms. 

Ideal Candidates for Stem Cell Injections for Back Pain

An ideal candidate for stem cell back pain injections is anyone who has been suffering from a painful disc or facet injury. Such an injury can occur for a number of reasons including: overuse, trauma, or arthritis. What’s more, degenerative disc disease can affect people at almost any point in their adult life –– from their mid-30s to their 70s or beyond. Many of our patients are sports enthusiasts and are seeking ways to get back to the activities they love, such as marathon running, as quickly as possible.

While patients who seek out stem cell treatments are more typically chronic pain sufferers (pain lasting more than 3 months), we have also seen dramatic improvements for those with acute or subacute injuries. Whether the pain is acute, subacute, or chronic, patients have noted a decrease in back pain as well as improvements in mobility following stem cell treatment.

stem cell back injections testimonial

Patient who underwent a stem cell procedure for low and mid back talks about her experience with the treatment administered in Vail, Colorado. She is now almost pain free and is looking forward to skiing again – for the first time in three years.

Whether the pain is acute, sub-acute or chronic, patients have noted a decrease in pain as well as improvements in mobility.

Qualifications of a Physician Treating Back Pain with Injections

When searching for a physician to discuss regenerative medicine procedures for the treatment of spinal pain syndromes, there are several key things to keep in mind. 

Look for a spinal interventionist that:

  • Utilizes regenerative medicine techniques for the treatment of degenerative disc disease –– including stem cells harvested from both adipose-derived tissue as well as bone marrow concentrate.
  • Has spent many years in the field of diagnostic and therapeutic spinal injection work.
  • Has performed thousands of spinal injections
  • Has treated hundreds of regenerative cases –– with an emphasis on the spine.
  • Stays at the forefront of the regenerative medicine field by proctoring other physicians, speaking and attending meetings to discuss scientific research and growth in the field.

Where Are Stem Cells Harvested From for Spinal Injections?

Stem cells used in back pain therapy are known as autologous cells –– meaning they are taken from the patient’s own body. Not only is this the most efficient way to collect stem cells, but it’s also extremely safe. Since the cells come from the patient’s own body, the possibility for rejection is all but eliminated. Generally speaking, adult stem cells can be taken from either bone marrow or fat tissue. 

In order to obtain the most effective results for a stem cell procedure, a combination of stem cells and growth factors should be utilized:

harvesting stem cells for a back injection procedure
  • Adipose tissue derived stem cells are harvested through a minimally invasive liposuction procedure. A light oral and IV sedation is used to help relax the patient. No general anesthetic is required. This is the largest source of adult stem cells available in one’s body for use in regenerative medicine. This cell volume/quality does not decline with age and is readily available.
  • Bone marrowderived stem cells are harvested by painlessly inserting a specialized needle into the center of the posterior iliac crest (pelvis). For this procedure, local and/or IV anesthetic is used to make the patient comfortable. This should always be performed under live image-guidance to ensure placement accuracy and safety. While the bone marrow cell count does decline with age and only provides a fraction of the cell count found in adipose derived-tissue, the bone marrow concentrate does provide a rich source of growth factors. The use of bone marrow concentrate in combination with the adipose-derived stem cells can further improve patient outcomes.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma PRP) is harvested from the patient’s blood, drawn from the peripheral vein in the arm. PRP is only used as an adjunct to cell-based regenerative procedures, but not as a stand-alone treatment.

What Happens After a Stem Cell Injection for Back Pain?

Once the stem cells have been collected, consolidated, and injected back into the patient’s body, the regenerative process begins. Stem cells have the potential to regenerate injured or damaged cartilage tissue, tendons, bones, muscle, ligaments, and vertebral annular disc cartilage. These stem cells will be injected into the damaged tissue and kickstart your body’s own natural healing process. Stem cells can neutralize inflammation as well as accelerate healing. Again, no other treatment option can offer these possibilities. 

The only way to be fully informed about stem cell therapy is to talk to a skilled physician. Our medical director, Dr. Scott Brandt, has 30 years of clinical experience and is an expert in interventional pain medicine. If you would like to know if your back pain could be treated with stem cell therapy, contact our office so that we can thoroughly review your history and needs.

Stem cells are delivered to the damaged tissue, and stimulate your body’s own natural healing process. They have the potential to regenerate injured or damaged cartilage tissue, tendons, bones, muscle, ligaments and vertebral annular disc cartilage.

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

Next Step

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.