Stem cell therapy is one of the most well-known and high-profile forms of medical treatment. For decades, medical researchers have used stem cell therapy to treat a myriad of conditions. However, stem cell therapy is growing in popularity and accessibility. As a result, more and more people may wonder if stem cell therapy is right for them. Specifically, using stem cell therapy for back pain can be a viable option for individuals in certain circumstances. Here, we’ll take a closer look at stem cell therapy explain how the process actually works:
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Modern Stem Cell Therapy
One of the first applications of stem cell therapy was to treat blood diseases. While physicians today still use stem cells to treat blood diseases, they are also using them to help repair and regenerate tissue that has deteriorated in other parts of the body, as well. Whether due to chronic or acute injury, disease, and/or the natural aging process, the human body weakens over time; as the progenitor of most (and sometimes all) cell types, stem cells have the potential to replace damaged cells and restore function and mobility to areas that have previously been decayed. One of the most common ways stem cells are now being used is to treat the degeneration of the discs in the back.
There’s no denying that it’s an exciting time for doctors and their patients alike; but it’s not a time without complications. With any new advancement in science and medicine comes misconception. People (scientists included!) can assume too much or too little and confuse ideal or realistic outcomes in the absence of historical evidence. Only time can solidify theory. With regard to using stem cells for back pain, for instance, patients often expect that their procedure will mimic that of a bone marrow transplant, with a donor supplying the stem cells, a period of weakened immunity, and a long recovery. In fact, their expectations are nearly always wrong. Here’s what really happens when you receive a therapy using stem cells to treat back pain:
Using Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain
Unlike a bone marrow transplant, stem cell therapy to treat back pain is minimally invasive. It can be done in an office based procedure suite (rather than a hospital), with 2-3mm incisions and no general anesthesia. Also in contrast to many other types of stem cell transplants, our stem cell procedures for back pain here at ThriveMD do not involve allogeneic stem cell donation and don’t require the suppression of the immune system to encourage engraftment.
We harvest stem cells from adipose (fat) tissue usually in the abdomen or flank. We also extract bone marrow stem cells from the iliac crest using image guided needle extraction and additionally, create platelet-rich plasma with blood components taken with a standard blood draw. We isolate/centrifuge each of these aspirates in order to make a concentrated combination of stem cells, growth factors, and proteins. We then inject the solution back into the patient’s body at the site of the damaged tissue using live x-ray (fluoroscopic) guidance. Patients walk out of the office within three or four hours of their arrival, recover at home, and usually return to work within one or two days! Pain relief can commence in as little as two-to-12 weeks as healthy cells are restored and inflammation goes down. Continuing improvement possibly extends up to one year past treatment. In many cases, our patients return to normal or near normal functioning with a significant reduction of pain.
Want to Learn More?
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.