Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain


Most Americans, and especially the active ones who live or spend time in Colorado, experience back pain at some time in their lives. In fact, a majority of all Americans will miss work sometime in their lives due to disc herniations and back pain. It is the second most common complaint made to a primary care doctor, surpassed only by the common cold.

Usually, the pain is fairly minor. But when it is not, you can have a difficult time finding relief. As posted on our blog post about avoiding low back surgery, researchers believe stem cells for back pain likely hold the key.

Researchers believe stem cell therapy likely holds the key to many sources of back pain.

stem cell therapy for back pain

How Can Severe Pain in Your Joints, Soft Tissues and Back Be Relieved with Stem Cells?

Current Medical Therapies for Back Pain Relief

Stem cell therapy may have the potential to be an alternative to invasive spine surgery.
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Current conservative medical treatment for low back pain and herniated discs include exercise, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, pain medications, and therapeutic injections. These treatments are aimed at maximizing function, and returning the patient to as normal a life as possible.  In severe cases, invasive surgeries such as spinal fusion are carried out, requiring general anesthesia and lengthy physical rehabilitation. In a significant number of cases, ongoing pain and dysfunction remain.

Patients now have a minimally invasive option. Stem cell therapy for back pain and disc herniations can potentially repair the damaged disc or facet joint, restore function, rehydrate the disc, and ultimately alleviate chronic pain.

Back Pain Conditions & Problems Treated by Stem Cells

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Herniated Discs & Sciatica Causing Lumbar Back Pain

What is degenerative disc disease and what are the symptoms?

Spinal disc degeneration and disc herniations are two of the most common causes of back pain, affecting in particular the lumbar spine (low back). Spinal discs are soft, compressible structures that separate the vertebrae of the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers, allowing the spine to flex, bend, and twist.

Sciatica is the name for the horrible leg pain that is caused when a bulging lumbar disc irritates a lumbar nerve root. The discomfort can be a combination of burning pain and numbness that responds poorly to pain medication.

There is a normal amount of expected wear and tear of our spinal discs as we age. On the other hand, arthritis, injury, and extreme wear and tear of sports can accelerate the degeneration. On a cellular level, there is continual loss of healthy cells inside the disc that is responsible for the disc’s structure. Over time, normal cells are damaged and hydration is lost, leading to tears in the internal structure of the discs.

When discs degenerate, mobility is affected and function is limited, resulting in symptoms that include stiffness, weakness, and ultimately, unrelenting pain.

Facet Joint Dysfunction Resulting in Neck and Middle Back Pain

What is spinal facet disease and what are the symptoms?

Spinal facet disease is one of the most common causes of neck and back pain and can cause pain at any level of the spine. The spinal facets joints are located on both sides of the back of each spinal segment. They connect each spinal level and are responsible for stabilizing the vertebral bodies and counterbalancing the intervertebral discs. The facets can be injured during acute trauma often seen in flexion extension injuries such as a whiplash event or sports accident. The surfaces of the facet joints are covered by articular cartilage and are also prone to chronic degenerative arthritis much like the larger joints such as knees and hips.

Pain that is caused by facet dysfunction is typically isolated to the back of the lumbar spine, thoracic region and neck. The discomfort can be isolated to one side or may affect both sides of the spine at once. The pain may radiate into the muscles but does not extend into the extremities like sciatic pain that is caused from a disc herniation. Typically the pain is worsened with extension and or rotation of the neck or back. Diagnosis of facet pain begins with a physical exam and imaging studies, but often requires diagnostic injection with local anesthetic and or steroid to confirm the diagnosis.

When the facet joints are injured mobility is affected and function is limited, resulting in symptoms that can mimic disc disease such as stiffness, weakness, and ultimately, unrelenting pain.

How Stem Cells Can Treat Lumbar Discs

ThriveMD uses stem cells to treat back pain due to degenerative disc disease (DDD) as well as facet joint pain. The slides above focus on DDD.

Stem cell treatment of degenerative disc disease is a minimally-invasive, out-patient procedure where your own adult stem cells are harvested and injected into the damaged disc to potentially restore structure (disc height), hydration and function, and minimize pain. ThriveMD is one of currently just a handful of pioneers practicing stem cell therapy for degenerative disc disease and sciatica in the United States.

Stem cells for sciatica is a new treatment options revolutionizing the way sciatica patients are recovering from this potentially life altering injury. Adult stem cells are now being utilized to treat the painful disc and quiet the inflamed nerve root. This minimally invasive treatment takes advantage of your bodies own stem cells – which have the possibility to reduce the nerve irritation, quiet inflammation, stop the ongoing disc degeneration and help to rebuild a healthy disc material.

How Stem Cells Can Repair Facet Joints

stem cells for facet joint pain in skiers

Stem cell treatment of facet disease is a minimally-invasive, out-patient procedure where your own adult stem cells are harvested and injected into the damaged joints to potentially restore structure and function, and minimize pain. ThriveMD is one of currently just a handful of pioneers practicing stem cell therapy for facet disease in the United States.

Facet pain is treated very similarly to other joints. Please see joint and soft tissue section for more information.

Additionally, radiofrequency lesioning can be utilized to maximize pain relief in the facet joints while the joints are undergoing the regenerative healing process.

Minimally-invasive, out-patient procedure where your own adult stem cells are harvested and injected into the damaged joints to potentially restore structure and function, and minimize pain.

State-of-the-Art Stem Cell Injections for Spinal Back Pain

Placement of a needle into the vertebral disc or facet joint is a difficult and potentially dangerous procedure. This procedure should always be carried out under fluoroscopic (real-time x-ray) guidance by a physician highly trained in this technique. This is considered the gold standard for injections of the spine as it provides the highest level of safety.

Dr. Scott Brandt, medical director of Colorado’s ThriveMD, has spent the last 20 years with a strong focus on spinal injections. He has been an instructor for the International Spinal Injection Society, the North American Spine Society, and has taught thousands of physicians proper image guided injection techniques.

His clinical experience is second to none. He has injected tens of thousands of discs in his career without a single complication. Dr. Brandt is very excited that there is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of adult stem cell therapy for disc repair.

In addition, ThriveMD’s newest biologic treatment, Alpha 2 macroglobulin (A2M), is proving to be an excellent complimentary treatment to our regenerative stem cell procedures. Scientific evidence points to A2M being the key to stopping arthritis at the molecular level. A2M is a Broad Spectrum Multi-Purpose Protease Inhibitor that captures and inactivates the three major chemicals that lead to joint breakdown and cartilage damage.

By combining A2M to our current ground breaking stem cell therapies, we are capable of not only building new soft tissue, cartilage and tendon, but also halting the degenerative arthritic process and further protecting the treated joint.

To learn more about how we make our back pain treatments successful, please check out our post dedicated to the secrets to effective back pain injections.

Dr. Brandt has been an instructor for the International Spinal Injection Society, the North American Spine Society, and has taught thousands of physicians proper image guided injection techniques.
By combining A2M to our current stem cell therapies, we are capable of not only building new soft tissue, cartilage and tendon, but also halting the degenerative arthritic process and further protecting the treated joint.

Am I a Candidate for Stem Cell Treatment for Back Pain

A suitable candidate for stem cells for back pain is someone who suffers from a painful disc or facet injury from overuse, trauma, or debilitating conditions such as degenerative arthritis.

Much of the early work in this field has been devoted to chronic injuries.  We are also seeing dramatic improvement in recovery times for acute and sub-acute injuries.  Use of stem cell treatments for back pain in the acute stages of an injury, has patients returning to activity much more rapidly with greatly decreased pain and improved mobility. Our stem cell patients have successfully and quickly returned to golfskiing, hiking, or even marathon running.

ThriveMD will conduct a careful history and physical examination at one of the Colorado facilities, as well as a thorough review of appropriate imaging (x-ray and/or MRI) to determine whether your condition is suitable for stem cell therapy.

What Stem Cell Patients Say

We value your testimonials highly – if you have been a patient at our Colorado clinics, please leave your review on Facebook or Google. Alternatively, email it to us and we will include your quote on our page dedicated to back pain stem cell testimonials. Here is what one of the stem cell therapy patients had to say about his back pain case and the procedure:

“Dr. Brandt is a pioneer in this promising field and we are fortunate to have him in the Vail Valley. I believe the discs in my lower back will be as good as new by the 2015 ski season based on my three month recovery  since having two rounds of stem cell injections in June.”

Steve from Denver, Colorado, email

patient testimonial stem cells for back painPatient who underwent a stem cell procedure for low and mid back talks about her experience with the treatment administered in Vail, Colorado. She is now almost pain free and is looking forward to skiing again – for the first time in three years.

Individual patient results may vary. Contact us today to find out if stem cell therapy may be able to help you.

Next Step

If you believe you or someone you care about could be a candidate for stem cell therapy for back pain, please contact us today.