stem cell injections for back pain

The Secrets to Effective Stem Cell Injections for Back Pain

Scott Brandt, M.D. Stem Cell Therapy, Stem Cells for Back Pain, Stem Cells for Facet Joints, Stem Cells for Low Back

There are a number of clinics across the country that have begun to offer stem cell injections for back pain and its variety of conditions. Sorting out whether your condition is amendable to treatment using a regenerative medicine injection, and who to seek out to make both the evaluation and treatment, requires a thorough understanding of how back pain injections work.

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How Back & Spinal Disc Injections Have Evolved

Live X-ray guidance and ultrasound have allowed targeting of very specific spinal locations.
First we must clarify that spinal injection work for the treatment and diagnosis of spinal disorders has evolved over the past 25 years. During this time, the advent and common standard of care use of image-guided injections – live X-ray guidance and ultrasound, have allowed targeting of very specific spinal locations. We can now deliver anesthetics, steroids, and specific pain medication to delicate areas of spinal damage.

Today, there are many different types of back pain injections, such as epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks and facet joint injections. There is also a wide variety of spinal injections which are utilized specifically to determine where a patient’s pain is emanating from, such as discograms that allow for determination of a specific diagnosis and recommendation of a proper treatment plan.

The Rise of Stem Cell Back Injections

Image-guided injection work and diagnostic injections have allowed interventional pain physicians like myself to accurately identify spinal areas of pain beyond what can be gleaned from imaging data such as MRI and X-ray. Advancements in regenerative medicine, combined with skilled live-image guidance, have opened the door to utilizing new biologic and cell therapies to minimally invasively treat pain conditions that previously only had invasive surgical treatment options.

Stem cell injections do not use steroids or pain medication.
Unlike common back pain injections, stem cell injections for the treatment of degenerative disc disease do not use steroids or pain medication to treat the target site. Instead, adipose-derived stem cells and bone marrow concentrate used in regenerative stem cell injections ignite new cell growth and may help heal the damaged or injured area. These treatments are used to specifically target and treat the source of the pain.

Ideal Candidates for Stem Cell Injections for Back Pain

stem cell back injections candidateThe ideal candidate for stem cell back pain injections is someone who has been suffering from a painful disc or facet injury. This injury, damage and pain may be the result of overuse, trauma or a debilitating condition such as arthritis. A typical patient suffering from degenerative disc disease is in their late 30s to mid-70s. Most patients are sports enthusiasts and are seeking ways to get back to the activities they love, including marathon running, as quickly as possible.

While back pain patients seeking out stem cell treatments are more typically chronic pain sufferers (pain lasting more than 3 months), we have also seen dramatic improvements for those with acute or sub-acute injuries. Whether the pain is acute, sub-acute or chronic, patients have noted a decrease in back pain as well as improvements in mobility.

Whether the pain is acute, sub-acute or chronic, patients have noted a decrease in pain as well as improvements in mobility.

Qualifications of a Physician Treating Back Pain with Injections

When searching for the physician to discuss regenerative medicine procedures for the treatment of spinal pain syndromes, there are several specifics to investigate. Look for a spinal interventionist that:

  • Utilizes regenerative medicine techniques for the treatment of degenerative disc disease – including stem cells harvested from both adipose-derived tissue as well as bone marrow concentrate, for the best chance of a successful outcome
  • Has spent many years working in the field of diagnostic and therapeutic spinal injection work
  • Has performed thousands of spinal injections
  • Has treated hundreds of regenerative cases – with an emphasis on spine
  • Stays at the forefront of the regenerative medicine field by proctoring other physicians, speaking and attending meetings to discuss scientific research and growth in the field

Where Are Stem Cells Harvested From for Spinal Injections

In order to obtain the most effective results for a stem cell procedure, a combination of stem cells and growth factors should be utilized:

harvesting stem cells for a back injection procedure
  • Adipose tissue-derived stem cells are harvested through a minimally invasive liposuction procedure. A light oral and IV sedation is used to help relax the patient. No general anesthetic is required. This is the largest source of adult stem cells available in one’s body for use in regenerative medicine. This cell volume/quality does not decline with age and is readily available.
  • Bone marrow-derived stem cells are harvested by painlessly inserting a specialized needle into the center of the posterior iliac crest (pelvis). For this procedure, local and/or IV anesthetic is used to make the patient comfortable. This should always be performed under live image-guidance to ensure placement accuracy and safety. While the bone marrow cell count does decline with age and only provides a fraction of the cell count found in adipose derived-tissue, the bone marrow concentrate does provide a rich source of growth factors. The use of bone marrow concentrate in combination with the adipose-derived stem cells can further improve patient outcomes.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is harvested from the patient’s blood, drawn from the peripheral vein in the arm. PRP is only used in the treatment of facet joint syndrome and not injected directly into the disc.

What Happens after a Stem Cell Injection for Back Pain

Once the stem cells have been harvested, processed and injected back into the back pain patient‘s body, the regenerative process begins. They have the potential to regenerate injured or damaged cartilage tissue, tendons, bones, muscle, ligaments and vertebral annular disc cartilage. These stem cells will find the damage tissue, and stimulate your body’s own natural healing process. Stem cells can neutralize inflammation as well as accelerate healing.

Stem cells will find the damage tissue, and stimulate your body’s own natural healing process. They have the potential to regenerate injured or damaged cartilage tissue, tendons, bones, muscle, ligaments and vertebral annular disc cartilage.

*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.

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