Pain is a worldwide problem, affecting people in both industrialized, as well as developing, countries. It’s thesecond most common reason for doctors’ visits in the United States alone, with the majority of American pain sufferers complaining of joint and back pain that is either acute or chronic. Indeed, up to 20% of U.S. citizens deal with persistent pain, making it an enormous burden not only for those suffering with it, but for medical providers, employers, caregivers and more; chronic pain impacts drug use, mobility, mental health and perceived quality of life for pain sufferers, but it also demands valuable time and money from the people who care for, employ and love them. There’s much evidence to suggest that here and around the globe, pain — particularly musculoskeletalpain — is one of theworld’s biggest issues.
Of course, pain is not a new problem, but it is a worsening one. We are living longer, exposing our bones and joints to more wear and tear and more trauma; consequently, we are more likely to experience disease, injury and the natural degeneration of soft tissue that so often culminates in acute and then chronic pain sensation. As pain issues continue to cause more people to experience longer episodes of pain, researchers have begun focusing on alternative treatment options. This is beneficial in many ways. It is helping to diminish the use of opioids as a pain treatment measure, and it is also uncovering ways to prolong symptom relief. One of the most promising new pain treatments isstem cell therapy. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about using stem cells to treat orthopedic pain.
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Types of Orthopedic Pain
Pain is classified in multiple ways. It can be acute, lasting less than six months, or chronic, persisting for more than six months. Acute orthopedic pain stems mostly from traumatic injuries, such as sprains, strains and fractures, while chronic orthopedic pain usually results from joint overuse and natural degeneration that occur over time. Both are common among orthopedic patients and can be typically ascribed to one or more root cause:
Most orthopedic pain results from an injury to the body’s bones or soft tissues. Sometimes the injury is the result of a disease (such as cancer or diabetes), and sometimes it is the result of trauma (such as a broken bone). However, tissues also naturally degrade over time, sparking a mechanical malfunction and/or aninflammatory response (such as osteoarthritis) that frequently results innociceptive pain, as well.
Orthopedic pain can also result from nerve damage. Degeneration, disease and trauma can cause a bone to compress a nearby nerve, precipitatingneuropathic pain that can be severe and especially disabling.
As mentioned,inflammation is often a secondary feature of any type of bodily damage and, as such, can be considered a third source of orthopedic pain. When tissues are damaged in some way (either by disease, injury or natural degeneration), the body releases chemicals that initiate a series of events: First, they signal the release of fluid that collects in the damaged tissue, causing swelling and serving to insulate and protect the tissue from further destruction. Second, they triggerphagocytosis, the process by which dead and damaged cells are removed from the affected tissue by white blood cells. And third, they stimulate nerves to send out pain signals, warning us to take care of the damaged part of our body.
History of Stem Cell Therapy
The use of stem cells to treat disease dates back over 70 years. Early applications involved their use as a cancer treatment, but today,continued and extensive study has validated the use of stem cells as a potential treatment for a host of other issues, as well: type 1 diabetes, nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, immunodeficiency disorders and musculoskeletal issues are just a few. In fact, research has so progressed that many of the hitherto theoretical uses for stem cells are now becoming commonplace in clinical practice; such is the case with using stem cell therapy to treat orthopedic damage, degeneration and disease. It’s an exciting time, not just for researchers and clinicians, but for patients, too, as now stem cells can be used in a significantly less traumatic way than that demonstrated by their previous utilization (i.e.,stem cell transplants).
So… What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells that are able to develop into many different kinds of cells. They are present in the earliest stages of development (when embryos are just beginning to form specific tissues), but they also exist in adult bodies, where they aid in cellular homeostasis, repairing and regenerating certain cells in order to maintain maximum cellular function. The ability that some adult stem cells have to differentiate into certain types of cells, no matter their origin, makes them excellent candidates for use as an orthopedic pain treatment. Theirinherent regenerative nature means they are primed to potentially repair and regrow cells no matter their original location; stem cells can be harvested from one part of the body, injected into another and actually grow cells like those surrounding their new location!
Stem Cell Therapy for Orthopedic Pain
All stem cell therapies require the harvesting of stem cells. When being used to treat orthopedic pain, however, only autologous adult stem cells are used. This means adult stem cells are removed from the patient’s own body (not a donor’s). It is not an ethically controversial treatment since no embryonic stem cells are needed or used. In fact, at this time our team at ThriveMD believesadult mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells above all other types of stem cells offer the best potential for repairing bone and soft tissue degradation. Mesenchymal stem cells are located in several parts of the body and possess the ability to develop into bone, cartilage, muscle, and more. We harvest them from a patient’s adipose (fat) tissue via lipoaspiration, as well as from bone marrow reserves within his or her iliac crest (part of the pelvic girdle). Bone marrow doesn’t just contain mesenchymal stem cells, though, it also produces hematopoietic stem cells, which we also harvest. Hematopoietic stem cells are capable of creating red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets and additionally aid in the healing process. We believe that a combination of these two types of stem cells offer the most positive regenerative effects and, thus, are better able to effectively treat orthopedic pain.
During this initial consultation, Dr. Brandt will review the patient’s history and any relevant imaging. At this time, we educate the patient regarding options and procedure specifics.
Using IV sedation, stem cells,growth factors, andplatelet-rich plasma (PRP) are harvested from the patient via lipoaspiration, bone marrow harvest, and blood draws. The procedure is performed in an office-based procedure suite setting. The biologics are harvested, processed, and then injected into the patient’s damaged tissue using live image guidance to ensure the biologics are reaching the desired targeted area of concern. This process takes under three hours.
The same-day procedure allows patients to rest comfortably at home following the procedure for a day or two before resuming daily activities. One month later, he or she returns for a follow-up injection to help continue the healing process.
How Stem Cells Work to Treat Orthopedic Pain
Research shows that stem cell therapy for orthopedic pain works by facilitating the expression of anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic and anti-fibrotic signals that consequently produce an environment that is conducive to wound healing and tissue regeneration. The result: The potential for tissue repair and most importantly significant reductions in pain in the majority of patients treated.
Upon arriving in damaged tissue, stem cells transmitparacrine signals. Paracrines are chemicals that stimulate surrounding, native cells to repair tissue damage themselves. Stem cells also secrete cytokines, growth factors and other proteins that work to reduce inflammation, speed healing and inhibit cell death within damaged tissue. As wounds heal, inflammation is reduced and pain diminishes.
Not unexpectedly, stem cells are also able to differentiate into new cells, thereby replacing damaged tissue that doesn’t have the ability to repair or replicate itself. New cells restore function to tissues, enabling them to work properly again. This, in and of itself, reduces pain sensation.
The specific combination of mesenchymal stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, PRP and growth factors used here at ThriveMD has been shown to aid in cellular communication and accelerate wound healing by increasing blood flow, improving blood coagulation and providing a scaffolding of fibrin on which new cells can more easily attach to form new tissue. New tissue provides structural support, thereby alleviating pain.
The Benefits of Using Stem Cell Therapy for Orthopedic Pain
Traditional treatments for orthopedic degeneration, disease, and injury include rest, medication, and physical therapy, steroid or hyaluronic acid injection, followed by surgery if (when) the preceding approach stops providing pain relief. Each of these options can provide pain relief, but only stem cell therapy has the potential to actually generate new tissue growth. In this way, the damage causing the pain is addressed and resolved when stem cells are used to treat it. Furthermore, stem cell therapy offers the following benefits:
Stem Cell Therapy for Orthopedic Pain is a Quick and Minimally invasive Procedure
Orthopedic stem cell therapy is an office-based procedure requiring no general anesthesia and no major incisions. The entire treatment takes less than three hours.
Stem Cell Therapy for Orthopedic Pain Offers a Shortened Recovery
Because stem cell therapy is minimally-invasive, there is a significant reduction in the time it takes to recover from it. Following a stem cell procedure, patients typically return to normal activities within two days with no need for crutches or braces. Most patients don’t need physical therapy, instead experiencing improvement in mobility and functionality, as well as pain relief, in as little as four to twelve weeks.
Stem Cell Therapy for Orthopedic Pain Has the Potential to Provide Lasting Pain Relief
Finally, stem cell therapy is the only therapy that has been shown to naturally repair (with biologics rather than artificial implants) orthopedic degeneration, damage and disease. Too frequently, therapeutic interventions meant to improve orthopedic issues merely mask their symptoms; they do little to actually remedy the underlying problem. Research, however, indicates that stem cells can repair tissue damage, strengthening the overall tissue structure and improving and even eliminating pain resulting from instability.
Colorado’s Top Stem Cell Doctor for Orthopedic Pain
Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment option for many orthopedic issues, including:
Degenerative Disc Disease
Spinal Facet Dysfunction
Joint and Soft Tissue Issues (especially those in the Knees, Shoulders, Wrists, Ankles, Hands, Feet and Hips)
Many providers now offer it. However, not all stem cell clinics provide the same level of care. If you or someone you love has an orthopedic condition that causes pain, you need toresearch your options, askingquestions that ensure you receive safe and effective medical care.
ThriveMD is Colorado’s premier authority on stem cell treatments for orthopedic pain.
Our medical director,Dr. Brandt, has extensive training in interventional pain management and stem cell therapy. He remains active with current research opportunities and follows developments in the field of regenerative medicine, presenting at conferences, workshops and seminars around the country. His clinical expertise has contributed to the safety and efficacy of novel medical devices and resulted in medical technology patents. With his guidance, our patients receive a superior level of care. Unlike many clinics, we use live image guidance and a proven combination of biologics so that our patients have the best chances for lasting pain relief. To learn if stem cell therapy might be an option for your own orthopedic pain or that of a loved one’s, pleasecontact us.
In addition, please review some of the latest research regarding the efficacy of using stem cell therapy to treat many types of orthopedic conditionshere, as well as multiple patient testimonialshere.
If you believe you or someone you care about could be a candidate for natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, please contact us today.