Stem Cells to Treat Back Pain

Stem Cells to Treat Back Pain

Stem Cells to Treat Back Pain

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Stem Cells to Treat Back Pain

Beyond the standard, traditional treatments for low back pain, stem cell therapy is an alternative approach that is in its infancy but may become a viable treatment option for many.  In simplest form, stem cells are cells that are taken from within the body that can differentiate (develop into specialized cells) to produce more cells. These cells can be targeted to repair tissues within the body including the joints and spine.

Disc degeneration is the process in which the intervertebral discs undergo changes leading to desiccation “drying out” and eventual dysfunction. When this occurs, the mechanics of how the back moves and functions changes.  For a subset of the population, this can lead to chronic low back pain.  From a scientific standpoint, it is believed that once the disc begins this degenerative process, the discs are unable to heal themselves.

Stem cell research in orthopedics is one of the hottest areas in regenerative medicine. In a few small studies that appear in the literature, the use of mesenchymal stem cells to treat degenerative disc disease showed the potential for positive outcomes including a decrease in pain levels. Safety is a big concern and so far, no adverse effects have been noted.

In one of the largest studies to date (phase 2 study), 100 patients were randomized into several groups at 13 sites located in the U.S. and Australia. One group was injected with a higher dose of mesenchymal precursor cells, a second group with a lesser dose of mesenchymal precursor cells, a third group was injected with hyaluronic acid, and the last group was injected with saline. The authors of the study have reported over 71% of those injected with stem cells met markers for efficacy and safety at 6 months.

Some of the unknowns at present include a standardized protocol to develop the cells into the correct type, methods of implantation, survival once implanted, and promoting cell function and development. Even with all of the research that has been done and published, there is still a lack of complete and total understanding of the processes involved in disc degeneration. Without this knowledge, it can prove challenging to develop strategies and treatments to stop or reverse these processes.

One of the other areas and approaches is the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP).  With this approach, blood is withdrawn from a patient, processed and then injected into the diseased area.  The theory behind this is that the stem cells are concentrated in the bone marrow and fat which when injected into certain areas, may help promote healing.   The problem with this approach is that enough stem cells may not harvested to produce the desired effects. Again, there are many unknowns at this point.

At the present time, most insurance providers do not pay for stem cell therapies as it is still considered experimental. While there may be advantages to this type of treatment, it can be very expensive.  The known risks include possible infection and a temporary increase in inflammation following injection

Citations

  • Han B, Wang HC, Li H, Tao YQ, Liang CZ, Li FC, Chen G, Chen QX. Nucleus pulposus mesenchymal stem cells in acidic conditions mimicking degenerative intervertebral discs give better performance than adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Cells Tissues Organs. 2014;199(5-6):342-52. PubMed PMID: 25661884

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

One of “6 Spine Physicians Ranked #1 on Google” – December 2016

Top Ten Most Liked Spine Surgeons on the Internet – July 2016

2016 Spine Surgeons to Know list – January 2016

2014 Spine Specialists to know list – September 2014

One of Ten Leaders of Certified Spine Programs – December 2011

 

The Best Orthopedics in Tampa

The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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