Degenerative Discs in the lower back affect almost 80 percent of people on our planet.
For the millions of Americans who live with the chronic pain of spinal disc degeneration, treatment options are limited. They can hope for relief from bed rest and opioid-level pain medication, or they can choose to undergo a variety of painful, surgical procedures such as spinal fusions or disc replacements. The most significant drawback is that surgery does not treat the degeneration or restore the disc to its natural function, meaning that success is often elusive, even after a major surgical event.
Non-surgical alternatives for back pain
A non-surgical approach using stem cells offers a potential solution to back pain along with reducing the time and cost associated with surgery and rehabilitation.
Prior to embarking on this journey, it is important for the patient to have a good general understanding of stem cell therapy as it relates to their discs.
Stem cells either come from your own body or from someone else’s body. Stem cells from someone else are called allogenic stem cells. Stem cells from your own body are called autogenous stem cells. When a patient has a bone marrow transplant for cancer, they are receiving allogenic stem cells. These stem cell transplants are very different than the orthopedic treatments we perform. Transplants involve a rigorous screening process to ensure donor match and reduce the incidence of rejection. Our therapies ONLY use stem cells from your own body. A matching process is not necessary and there NO risk for rejection. We utilize your own cells to heal your body.
Patients who are considering stem cell therapy should be wary if their physician recommends a stem cell injection from someone else (allogenic), unless they have already undergone the same rigorous screening process that cancer patients do.
Autogenous stem cells—cells from the patient’s own body—are supported by research, suggesting that they do work for many orthopedic procedures.
One of the more compelling articles on the topic indicates that you need a critical minimum number of stem cells in order to derive benefit from the injection. The study showed that, when done correctly, stem cell therapy resulted in significantly better outcomes than surgical options, such as fusion and disc replacement. Additionally, these results have been maintained after two years of follow-up. These are incredibly encouraging results!
The FDA has implemented very strict testing criteria for success when determining the approval of disc replacement and fusion devices. This particular disc injection study used the same criteria.
At the two-year mark, the results were similar. Results of stem cell injections were compared to results from the surgical options, as well as overall patient satisfaction and improvement observations. All in all, the results prove very encouraging for anybody suffering from chronic back pain.
Knowing your options
As with any medical procedure, there are no guarantees. For patients with back pain, talking to your physician about using their own stem cells makes sense. Often, the alternatives is long-term chronic pain, surgery or narcotic pain medication.
If you have back pain that is more than mild, it is critical that you explore your options and understand the power of stem cells and regenerative medicine therapies.
The most striking differences between stem cell therapy and surgery are the possible complications.
Surgical treatments can result in severe or life-threatening risks, potential device-failure and infection. In this study, 15 percent of surgery patients had severe or life-threatening events, 7.3 percent had device-related events, and 4.9 percent had device failures that required another surgery. Obviously, spinal surgery is a major undertaking and risks should be carefully considered. These types of complications simply don't exist with the injection of a patient's own stem cells.
We feel incredibly encouraged by the potential benefits of stem cells for back pain. We follow every patient prospectively to document the results of their treatment. We also continue to perform ground-breaking research to improve upon current stem cell therapies. We hope this will be the future of medicine!
Wondering if you are a good candidate for stem cell therapy? Call to set up a consultation with Bennulife today.