Stem cells for back pain as well as stem cells for soft tissue have been a highly effective minimally-invasive treatment at ThriveMD’s Colorado locations. The following patient case study on avoiding spinal fusion surgery and healing a torn Achilles tendon is very complex and interesting. The patient’s back pain condition includes degenerative disc disease, disc herniation with an annular tear and facet joint arthritis. When his stem cell therapy back pain treatment was complete he was able to run a marathon.
The Patient Profile of Intractable Back Pain & Achilles Tear
A very active 46-year old Denver gentleman came to see me at ThriveMD’s Vail Valley office, to discuss a stem cell procedure in December of 2014. He was considering options for the treatment of his damaged L5-S1 spinal disc and partial tear to his left Achilles tendon. His initial pain and injury began around Memorial Day weekend 2014 while moving a large bag of cement. Shortly thereafter he began to describe severe pain in his central low back with proximal radiation into his right buttock.
The patient had undergone MRI examination of his lumbar spine in September of 2014. The study was significant for mild facet joint arthritis and L3-S1, a mild L3-4 disc herniation with no significant neural impingement. There was some mild lateral recess stenosis bilaterally at L5-S1. There was notably a large left disc protrusion at L5-S1 with evidence of S1 nerve root compression, annular tear present and mild degenerative spondylolisthesis was also noted.
Ultrasound of the left Achilles tendon was significant for fusiform thickening of the tendon in the mid aspect. Also identified was some focal tendinosis and partial calcification at the calcaneal insertion. There was a mild fluid filled distension of the retrocalcaneal bursa.
Conservative Treatments the Patient Tried
The patient underwent significant conservative care that included physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture with only temporary mild improvement in his symptoms more notably in his low back. He was still reporting pain scores of 3-8 out of 10 on typical days, and was offered a spinal fusion surgery for intractable back pain. He reported no noticeable improvement in the Achilles tendon pain.
Stem Cells to Avoid Back Surgery and Heal Achilles Tear
After a thorough history and physical exam was completed and imaging reviewed, the decision was made to move forward with a stem cell therapy procedure to include the harvest and consolidation of both adipose (fat) derived stem cells, bone marrow concentrate, as well as platelet rich plasma. The goals were to avoid spinal fusion surgery, heal the Achilles tear, and return to athletic activities.
The injections included an intra-discal injection at L5-S1 of fat derived adult stem cells and bone marrow concentrate into the nucleus and damaged annulus. These injections were performed under live x-ray imaging with contrast material demonstrating, in multiple views, perfect placement into the damaged tissue.
The Achilles tendon was treated with a combination of fat derived stem cells, bone marrow concentrate and PRP with the use of ultrasound guidance to direct coverage throughout the affected area. The biologics were delivered throughout the damaged Achilles tendon and the retrocalcaneal bursa.
Short Term Results and Follow-Up Treatment
The patient was seen in follow-up one month after his initial injections at which time he underwent a bone marrow concentrate booster injection to both his L5-S1 disc as well as his left Achilles tendon tear. On admission that day the patient reported 50% improvement in his pre-procedural pain scores. He was directed after his procedure to advance his activity levels as tolerated to include training that slowly included impact and twisting maneuvers. He tolerated the advances in training without difficulty.
Long Term Back Pain Treatment Results
At 12 months after the patient’s initial regenerative stem cell procedure he reported that he was pain free and had recently run a marathon without return of his low back or Achilles pain. He continues to do well and has returned to all of his pre-injury activities.
The patient reported he was pain free and had recently run a marathon