Stem Cell Therapy

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is the latest and greatest in regenerative medicine and can be an effective back pain treatment. Adults have stem cells within certain areas of their bodies. These cells are undifferentiated (not specialized). When taken and placed into the right environment, they can specialize and become any cell within the body. The role of stem cells is to be available when the body needs to regenerate structures. However, they are found in very low concentrations.

By harvesting the cells and concentrating them, the treatment dramatically increases the number of stem cells delivered to the site of injury.  The goal of injecting stem cells is to have them specialize into the specific cells, heal damaged cells and thus repair the injured structure. This can provide pain management and restoration to certain areas of the body.



What Conditions Do Stem Cells Treat?

The use of stem cell therapy has increased over the years to treat a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. These include the following:

  • Chronic tendon injuries (tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, Achilles tendonosis, etc)
  • Acute ligament injuries (ACL tears, rotator cuff tears)
  • Acute muscle injuries (hamstring tears, bicep tears, etc)
  • Osteoarthritis in joints (knee, shoulders, hip)
  • Labral tears (shoulder, hip)
  • Degenerative disc disease or low back pain
  • Discogenic back pain due to annular tears
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Back pain due to degenerated or herniated discs



Who Is a Candidate for Stem Cells Treatment?

Many individuals may be considered candidates for stem cell injections. In general, ideal patients are those who have some damage to the structure but not severe issues which may warrant other therapies. For example, an individual with moderate osteoarthritis in the knee is a great candidate but severe osteoarthritis would better be served with other treatments. Stem cell therapy may also be used for back pain treatment and pain management.

What Are the Advantages of Stem Cells?

One clear benefit of stem cells is that they are derived from each individual patient, which reduces the risk of any allergic or adverse immunologic response. Additionally, this is a non-surgical option to improve debilitating pain in various locations throughout the body. This is critical for the patient’s suffering from back pain as back surgery has a high failure rate. Lastly, the therapy provides long-lasting relief.

Potential Side Effects of Stem Cells Treatment

The stem cells used in this procedure are harvested from each individual patient. This process means that the treatment is relatively safe, with very few patients experiencing adverse complications or unwanted reactions. However, as with any medical procedure that involves placing a needle in the body, there are potential side effects that can occur, including:

  • Temporary swelling
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Soreness
  • Infection

If any side effects are experienced, they’re generally mild and resolve themselves within a couple of days.

Recovery After Stem Cell Treatment

Soreness is the most common side effect during recovery after stem cell treatment. It can be treated with acetaminophen and should last no more than a week. While healing from this procedure, patients should abstain from heavy exertion. Even with soreness, most patients choose to return to work the next day, though some prefer to rest for a few days.

Stem cell treatments have been shown to have an 85 percent success rate. However, it may take some time to feel their effects. The conditions we treat with stem cells vary, so experiencing the full impact of the treatment differs from person to person. Some begin to feel relief after three weeks, but for others, it could take six to eight weeks. Continual improvement can be expected over six months. After the full effects of the treatment are experienced, some patients feel relief from painful symptoms for years.

Are You a Good Candidate for Stem Cells?

After trying more conservative options, discuss with your physician at Spine Institute of North America if stem cells are right for you. Some considerations that may not make stem cells ideal for you include a history of certain cancers and infections.  Otherwise, most individuals are candidates.

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