The World Health Organization lists back pain as the leading cause of disability around the world. Twenty years ago, the best options for treating back pain, especially chronic back pain, were strengthening exercises, physical therapy, medication, injections and/or surgery. The results were often minimal, with last-ditch surgical procedures often causing more problems than solutions. After all, with surgery comes the risk of infection, increased recovery time and several other possible side effects and complications that, in many instances, can make its success in treating orthopedic injuries and disease and relieving pain hardly worth the investment of time, money, effort and hope it demands from patients, as well as their caregivers.
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However, there is good news. Over the past two decades, researchers have amassed a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of stem cell therapy for back pain vs. back surgery. An alternative to invasive procedures that require general anesthesia and months of recuperation, stem cell therapy offers a significantly less traumatic experience. Take a look at our review of the two treatments:
Stem Cell Therapy vs. Back Surgery: The Similarities
Some of the most common causes of back pain include degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, sciatica and facet joint dysfunction. Potentially, all of these conditions can be treated either surgically or via stem cell therapy. Depending on a professional review of a patient’s individual history, current circumstances and overall needs, a physician may choose one procedure over the other as each can possibly repair tissue and provide pain relief. Additional similarities between stem cell therapy and back surgery include the requirement that physical activity be limited in some way following each type of procedure, as well as the likely need for subsequent physical therapy and possible bracing support before recovery is completed.
Stem Cell Therapy For Back Pain vs. Back Surgery: The Differences
While the ultimate benefit of both stem cell therapy and back surgery could be the same, the risks are significantly different. Back surgery is considered a “major” surgical procedure, which often requires a general anesthetic, and carries significantly higher complication risks (such as nerve damage, bleeding, infection and a worsening of symptoms), and thus it is an inherently a more dangerous option. General anesthesia affects the entire body, exposing a patient to complications across many separate bodily systems (nervous, cardiovascular, pulmonary, etc.).
Stem cell therapy, on the other hand, is performed under light IV sedation. An experienced physician at a reputable clinic uses small gauge needles and fluoroscopic and/or ultrasound guidance to harvest and then reinject stem cells into the damaged area(s) of the back. This minimally invasive technique means many of the intrinsic problems of a major operation are removed. With stem cell therapy for back pain, patients can be treated in an out-patient, office based procedure suite. Most patients return to normal activities, including work and light exercise routines, much faster than those who have to recover from an invasive surgery. The majority of back surgeries require an in-patient hospital stay, which increases infection risk. In addition, most back surgeries require patients to be out of work for an extended period of time.
So…What Are The Next Steps?
If you or someone you care about is interested in learning more about stem cell therapy for back pain, please give us a call at 720-575-7878. We can assess your medical condition and help you determine the best treatment choice to improve your back pain.