If you or someone you know has issues with degenerative disc disease, you know that pain is frequently one of its most debilitating symptoms. Small discs separate the bones (i.e., “vertebrae”) in the spine, and when one (or more) of these discs begin to deteriorate, the bones lose their cushioning support, and mobility of the spine can be greatly diminished. Symptoms can range from moderate discomfort and loss of flexibility to crippling back or neck pain that can affect daily life. There are several prospective treatments for degenerative disc disease, but only one has the potential for actual regeneration: stem cell therapy.
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What is a Stem Cell Treatment for the Spine?
Every person has stem cells that are located throughout the body. Stem cells are cells that can become many (if not all) types of cells. Most of the time, cells originate in a certain type of tissue and can only make more cells of that tissue type. In this way, heart cells come from heart tissue, liver cells from liver tissue, and so on. Stem cells, however, can “transform” into a specific type of cell even if they exist in a different kind of tissue. This is particularly exciting because it means that adult stem cells can be used to replace cells that have been lost or damaged but have no other natural way to regenerate themselves.
During a stem cell treatment for the spine, an experienced physician harvests stem cells from multiple potential sources in a patient’s own body. (Stem cell therapy is an autologous process.) These stem cells are combined with special growth factors and platelet-rich plasma to create an aspirate which is then injected into the affected area of the patient’s back using live x-ray guidance.
Stem Cell Therapy vs Spinal Surgery
Traditionally, there are a few ways that individuals can deal with constant debilitating back pain. The first is a set of conservative treatments –– exercise, physical therapy, pain medications, and therapeutic injections. The other more extreme, though still common, treatment for habitual disc pain is surgery, such as a spinal fusion. Unfortunately, modern studies don’t indicate that spinal fusions and other invasive surgeries are much more effective at producing long-term results than basic, conservative treatments.
Stem cell therapy, on the other hand, allows for the natural repair and regeneration of spinal discs without many of the drawbacks associated with spinal surgeries. For instance, stem cell therapy is less invasive, requires less time for rehabilitation, and can deliver more meaningful results in the long run.
Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain
The other exciting component to stem cell therapy is that it can be applied to a range of different issues that may contribute to back pain. In fact, stem cell therapy has been used to treat individuals with all of the following conditions:
- Degenerative disc disease.
- Herniated discs.
- Facet joint dysfunction.
Stem cell therapy is not a miracle cure-all. It is still a delicate procedure that requires a tremendous amount of skill. Thankfully, Dr. Scott Brandt, medical director of Colorado’s ThriveMD, has spent the last 20 years with a strong focus on spinal injections. What’s more, a recent development is a biological treatment known as Alpha 2 macroglobulin (A2M) may additionally allow medical professionals to halt the degenerative arthritic process as well as build new cartilage, connective tissue, and tendons.
Stem Cell Pain Relief
Finally, perhaps the biggest impact of a stem cell treatment for the spine is its ability to provide pain relief effectively. Not only is the procedure minimally invasive and can be carried out with IV sedation rather than general anesthesia, it affords faster pain relief than most traditional treatments. Improvement typically begins to be noticeable in the first 2-12 weeks post-procedure.
Want to Learn More?
If you or a loved one is experiencing back pain, please contact our office to learn if a stem cell treatment for the spine could be a treatment option. A legitimate stem cell clinic like ours will review your personal history and help you choose a treatment with the best potential for success.