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

There are a number of clinics across the country that have begun to offer stem cell injections for back pain and its variety of conditions. Sorting out whether your condition is amendable to treatment using a regenerative medicine injection, and who to seek out to make both the evaluation and treatment, requires a thorough understanding of how back pain injections work.

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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 care use of image-guided injections – live X-ray guidance and ultrasound, have allowed targeting of very specific spinal locations. We can now deliver anesthetics, steroids, and specific pain medication to delicate areas of spinal damage.

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, such as discograms that allow for 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.

The Rise of Stem Cell Back Injections

Image-guided injection work and diagnostic injections have allowed interventional pain physicians like myself to accurately identify spinal areas of pain beyond what can be gleaned from imaging data such as MRI and X-ray. 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 ignite new cell growth and may help heal the damaged or injured area. These treatments are used to specifically target and treat the source of the pain.

Ideal Candidates for Stem Cell Injections for Back Pain

The ideal candidate for stem cell back pain injections is someone who has been suffering from a painful disc or facet injury. This injury, damage and pain may be the result of overuse, trauma or a debilitating condition such as arthritis. A typical patient suffering from degenerative disc disease is in their late 30s to mid-70s. Most patients are sports enthusiasts and are seeking ways to get back to the activities they love, including marathon running, as quickly as possible.

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

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 the physician to discuss regenerative medicine procedures for the treatment of spinal pain syndromes, there are several specifics to investigate. 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, for the best chance of a successful outcome
  • Has spent many years working 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 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

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 marrow-derived 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 in the treatment of facet joint syndrome and not injected directly into the disc.

What Happens after a Stem Cell Injection for Back Pain

Once the stem cells have been harvested, processed and injected back into the back pain patient‘s body, the regenerative process begins. They have the potential to regenerate injured or damaged cartilage tissue, tendons, bones, muscle, ligaments and vertebral annular disc cartilage. These stem cells will find the damage tissue, and stimulate your body’s own natural healing process. Stem cells can neutralize inflammation as well as accelerate healing.

Stem cells will find the damage 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.

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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 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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