Millions of people in the United States – and around the world – suffer from chronic lower back pain. There are plenty of treatments, but nothing seems to really cure the issue. The good news is that stem cell therapy may prove to be the answer. Researchers believe that stem cell therapy for back pain could help.
While back pain is often minor, it can be almost impossible to manage and find relief. Those wondering, “does stem cell therapy work for back pain?” will be happy to know that it may indeed help.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
There has been plenty of research into stem cell therapy and how it can be used to treat acute and chronic disorders and injuries, including stem cell therapy for herniated disc and other back issues. Doctors have been using stem cells for medical purposes for over 40 years, using them to treat all manner of health concerns. Stem cells have been used to treat cancer and degenerative conditions.
What Back Pain Problems Can Stem Cells Treat?
Muscle and Joint Pain
This type of restoration is effective for muscle issues as well as ligament or tendon injuries. Whether from injury or degenerative arthritis, stem cell therapy can strengthen and rejuvenate the affected area by creating new healthy tissue. This therapy is non-invasive and has been known to relieve back pain. In some cases, when used appropriately, it can even delay or all together avoid the need for a joint replacement.
When it comes to muscle pain and weakness, Regenerative and Sports Medicine is the top choice for stem cell therapy in Los Angeles.
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Herniated Discs, and Sciatica Causing Lumbar Back Pain
There are several kinds of back pain, with herniated discs and spinal disc degeneration among the most common for the lower back. Spinal discs are soft and compressible structures in the spine. These discs separate the vertebrae and make the spine flexible. They work as natural shock absorbers, allowing people to twist, bend, and flex their spine without issue.
The problem is that these discs aren’t perfect, and things can go wrong. Sciatica is one of the most common lower back pain problems. This is when bulging lumbar discs irritate one of the nerve roots, causing leg pain. The discomfort could be a combination of numbness and pain that regular medication can’t put a stop to.
It’s only natural to expect that spinal discs would naturally wear down over time as people age. However, arthritis, injuries, and extreme damage caused by sports injuries can expedite the process and cause discs to wear down quicker. There is a constant gradual degradation of healthy cells in the disc that keep the disc in shape. Normal cells get damaged over time, and this, combined with a loss of hydration, causes tears in the discs.
Degenerated discs cause a range of problems, including limited mobility and function. The symptoms of these conditions are pain, weakness, and stiffness.
Facet Joint Dysfunction Causing Back and Neck Pain
Back pain isn’t limited to the lower back. Spinal facet disease affects the middle and upper back, along with the neck. The spinal facet joints sit behind each segment of the spine. These joints connect the spinal levels and help to keep vertebral bodies stable. They also counterbalance intravertebral discs. These facets are vulnerable to injuries from acute trauma, such as sports accidents and whiplash. The surface of a facet joint is coated in articular cartilage, which is prone to arthritis, similar to large joints in hips and knees.
Pain triggered by facet dysfunction generally affects the thoracic region, back of the lumbar spine, and the neck. It causes discomfort that can be isolated to either side of the spine or both at once. The pain can radiate and reach muscles, but it won’t reach the extremities as sciatic pain can. The problem generally gets worse when one rotates their back or neck. Diagnosing facet back pain starts with imaging studies and physical exams, but a proper diagnosis may require steroids and local anesthetic.
Mobility is affected if these joints are injured, affecting motor function and quality of life. The symptoms of facet joint dysfunction are similar to disc disease and include weakness, stiffness, and pain.
Is Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain Right For Me?
Having back pain doesn’t automatically qualify someone as a suitable candidate to receive lower back stem cell treatment. The right candidate is someone who has a facet injury or painful disc caused by trauma, injury, overuse, and debilitating conditions like arthritis.
Most of the early work in stem cell research was conducted for chronic injuries. Stem cell treatments have also increased the recovery time for acute injuries. Using stem cell treatments for back pain in the acute stages of injury has patients return to regular activity sooner. Patients also have better mobility and suffer from less pain. Golfers, hikers, skiers, and marathon runners alike have all benefited from stem cell therapy.
A Word of Warning
Stem cell therapies can work wonders for back pain, but you must receive proper care. There are benefits and risks to any kind of medical treatment. The potential dangers of unproven stem cell therapy are particularly bad.
Attendants at an FDA public workshop in 2016 discussed severe adverse reactions they had due to stem cells. Participants recorded going blind and developing tumors. Stem cells are not a perfect treatment, and care must always be taken.
If you opt for stem cell therapy, be sure to get an FDA-approved treatment. Another option is to make sure the treatment is being studied under an Investigational New Drug Application (IND). IND is a clinical investigation plan submitted and allowed to proceed by the FDA. The stem-cell products approved by the FDA for use in the United States include blood-forming stem cells that are taken from cord blood. Other stem cells may cause adverse reactions.
So, does stem cell therapy work for lower back pain? It absolutely can. As you can see, stem cell therapy can be useful for treating muscle, disc and spinal pain in the back.
Talk to a medical professional today if you have back pain and want to be considered for stem cell treatments. For non-spinal stem cell therapy options, Regenerative and Sports Medicine can help.