What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells that are found in your body. These divide and differentiate to form different cells. Stem cells are found in adult tissues and are categorized into two –
- Embryonic stem cells
- Adult stem cells
Under appropriate conditions, stem cells divide in the body or in a laboratory to form more cells. These are called daughter cells. These cells either differentiate and become specialized cells with a more specific function, or self-renew to become new stem cells.
Daughter cells can become blood cells, heart muscle cells, brain cells, or bone cells. Stem cells are the only cells in the human body that can produce fresh cells naturally.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
Stem cell therapy is popularly known as regenerative medicine. The therapy promotes the repair of dysfunctional, diseased, or injured tissue with the help of either stem cells or their derivatives. Stem cells can be used to help people who might otherwise require organ transplantation – which can often take considerable time to receive and is limited.
Stem cells are grown in a laboratory by researchers. These are manipulated to specialize into a specific type of cells, such as blood cells, heart muscle cells, or nerve cells. The specialized cells are then implanted into a person. For instance, patients with heart disease will have the cells injected into their heart muscle. The transplanted cells will then contribute to repairing the defective heart muscle.
What Other Conditions Can Be Treated With Stem Cell Therapy?
Various injuries or conditions can be treated by stem cell therapy. These include –
- Knee Pain
- Hip Arthritis
- Meniscus Tears
- Shoulder Pain
- Labral Tears
- Torn Rotator Cuff
- Chronic Back and Neck Pain
- Wrist and Elbow Pain
- Non-healing Fractures
Treating Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be extremely difficult to treat and is the leading cause of work-related disability. Almost 80% of adults experience back issues at some point in their lives. Additionally, lower back pain is the third most common condition in the United States.
Back pain conditions can be narrowed down, but can’t be pinpointed to a certain condition or cause. No individual tests can’t clearly define what the cause of backache is.
Despite the issue with a specific diagnosis, pain management is an important part of treating lower back pain. Various options include –
- Pain killers – either oral or topical
- Muscle relaxants
- Low doses of antidepressants can relieve certain forms of backaches
- Steroid injections
Physical therapy treats back pain in numerous ways – from muscle release, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound treatment. Special therapists also give you exercises to do at home that strengthen your back muscles along with your core. This helps effectively support your spine, reducing pain from use.
A lot of people opt to supplement their treatments with alternative forms of therapy, like, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, and yoga.
If conservative methods of treating back pain fail and if your back pain is coming from a structural issue, your doctor might advise surgery. If the issue is a herniated disc, the surgery is minimally invasive – this removes the part of the herniated disc that is causing pain by pressing against the nerve.
These surgeries generally have a high success rate – about 80% or more. However, patients prefer to pursue alternative therapies.
What Can Stem Cells Do For Back Pain?
While in theory, stem cell treatment might not have any limitations, it might not be the same in reality. Although massic amounts of testing and research are yet to be done, scientists believe that stem cell therapies may apply to an extensive list of diseases someday. One of these diseases is degenerative disc disease and the accompanying back pain.
Since stem cells can develop into any type of cell in the body, they can be valuable for treatment and the healing process. When injected in between the intervertebral discs, stem cells can cause an immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effect. This, in turn, alleviates some of the pain the patient is experiencing, along with slowing down the process of degeneration.
Stem cell therapy also decreases any downtime post-injury and allows the patient to avoid painful rehab.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work For Back Pain?
Stem cell therapy, as mentioned earlier, is a regenerative therapy. This means that it helps the degenerated tissues repair themselves – in this case, the intervertebral discs. The cells used in this treatment can –
- Develop into cells required to repair the disc
- Self-renew, so they keep working to heal
- Reduce pain through their anti-inflammatory properties
Stem cell therapy is the first therapy for back pain that relieves pain along with helping the damaged tissue to rebuild itself.
What Happens During Stem Cell Therapy Procedure?
The majority of the time, stem cell therapy for back pain starts by harvesting the stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow.
The harvested cells are then put in a machine called the centrifuge. It processes the cells to create “Bone-Marrow Aspirate Concentrate” or BMAx. This contains the required stem cells along with growth factors and platelets (rich with the growth factor) to help rebuild the damaged tissue.
Once the concentrate is ready, your experienced physician will use a syringe to inject the compound into the affected disc. This procedure is to be performed only by a highly skilled and specially trained physician because it is extremely delicate.
Fluoroscopy – which is a real-time X-ray technology – is used to ensure the correct placement of the injection.
After undergoing stem cell therapy, some patients might experience certain side effects while others might not. Fortunately, however, the side effects of stem cell therapy are relatively short-term and typically low risk. These include –
- Pain due to the affected tissues
- Pain caused by nerve inflammation
Remember to mention to your physician any other medications you might be taking. These may weaken your immune system and, in turn, can cause a pesky infection.
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You can find out more about stem cell therapy for back pain at the OrthoCure clinic by getting in touch with us. Give us a call at (612) 800-5096.