Regenerative medicine treatments like stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments offer patients new options for treating back injuries and pain. In Lakeland, Florida, Novus Spine & Pain Center provides patients with these cutting-edge options to directly address the cellular damage that underlies chronic back pain and disc degeneration.
Traditional treatments for chronic neck and back injuries, along with the pain, have been limited to two options when conservative therapies fail – medication or surgery.
- Pain medications can help a patient avoid surgery, but do not eliminate the source of the pain. High doses of a steroid epidural (an injection of steroid medication around irritated or inflamed nerves in the spine) can cause severe side effects and actually reduce the body’s ability to heal. A study of middle-aged and older women who received high-dose steroid injections found damaged bone density and an increased risk of bone fractures.
- Surgery is the option of last resort, after conservative therapies and medications fail to relieve back pain. With surgery, a doctor can remove a section of bone or disc, or fuse two or more vertebrae. Besides being irreversible, surgery does not preserve the spine’s biomechanics, nor does it restore disc tissue. Fusion surgery is a highly invasive procedure that is likely to cause complications, with 76% of the patients requiring opiates to manage the pain.
Today, pain management doctors treat patients with traditional orthopedic medicine, as well as advanced regenerative medicine to offer a safe alternative to back surgery. Instead of cutting or joining parts of the spine, the patient’s stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can be used to restore and rebuild diseased discs in the spine.
In This Article:
- What Is Regenerative Therapy for Back Injuries?
- What Types of Regenerative Therapy Treatments Are There for Back Injuries?
- Studies in Regenerative Therapy for Back Injuries
- What Types of Back Injuries Can Regenerative Therapies Treat?
- When Will I See Results?
- Novus Spine & Pain Center
- Regenerative Therapy for Back Injuries Resources
What Is Regenerative Therapy for Back Injuries?
Regenerative therapy uses a patient’s own tissues to initiate healing. The treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that delivers a precise injection of either stem cells or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) where needed.
Stem cells have the unique ability to improve the pain associated with degenerative disc disease, and to also offer sustained improvement, unlike other therapies. There is growing interest in stem cell therapy due to the cells ability to restore and regenerate tissue, while also aiding the body’s natural healing process.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the blood’s plasma-rich platelets to increase the number of platelets in the body, and deliver a large concentration of healing growth factors.
Non-regenerative therapies for treating degenerative diseases like disc degeneration have their drawbacks:
- Opioids pose many dangers and side effects.
- Invasive surgery permanently changes the body’s natural structure (sometimes unsuccessfully).
- Interventional procedures like steroid injections can be beneficial, but don’t affect change on a cellular level or help the body repair itself.
What Types of Regenerative Therapy Treatments Are There for Back Injuries?
Stem cell and platelet-rich plasma therapies utilize natural growth factors produced from the patient’s own blood platelets to address the source of the pain. They also provide non-surgical treatment options for patients suffering from the complications associated with degenerative disc disease, often allowing patients to avoid spinal fusion surgery, and/or frequent high-dose steroid epidural injections and their associated side effects.
Patients with torn and painful discs can benefit from a stem cell injection procedure. This non-surgical procedure uses the patient’s own stem cells isolated from the patient’s bone marrow. The stem cells, along with a preparation of concentrated blood platelets, are injected into the damaged disc using advanced imaging guidance.
There is evidence that stem cells may reverse disc tissue loss. If successfully treated early in the disease process, this proactive approach may aid in preserving the natural biomechanics of the spine.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy can offer relief from lower back or neck pain, leg pain, or numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. It’s a safe, non-surgical treatment alternative for patients suffering from bulging discs and the problems related to a herniated disc.
Most patients with bulging or herniated discs respond well to a platelet-rich plasma injection into the space surrounding the inflamed spinal nerves. The procedure only takes a few hours to complete, and patients leave the clinic and go home immediately.
Studies in Regenerative Therapy for Back Injuries
A survey of 26 low back pain patients, all candidates for back surgery suffering from damaged vertebral discs, received an injection of their own stem cells into the damaged discs. Of the 26 patients, 24 (92%) avoided surgery through 12 months, while 21 (81%) avoided surgery through two years. Only 5 of the original 26 patients elected to undergo surgical intervention (fusion or artificial disc replacement) by the two-year milestone. It is also important to point out that none of the study participants suffered complications from the stem cell injection. The study provides evidence of the safety and feasibility of stem cell injection for the non-surgical treatment of degenerative disc pain.
Columbia Interventional Pain Center in St. Louis reviewed the case histories of 24 patients suffering chronic low back pain who were injected with their own stem cells. These participants were suffering from chronic low back pain for 3 months up to 12 years. Imaging tests revealed that all the participants had evidence of some degeneration or damage to the discs that cushion the bones of the spine. All patients agreed to try the stem cell treatment before resorting to surgery to relieve the pain.
Of the 24 patients who initially received the stem cell injections, half went on to have other procedures over the next 30 months, making it impossible to know the actual cause of their back pain. Of the 12 who had no other treatment, 10 reported that their pain lessened 2 to 4 months after receiving the stem cell injections. None of the study participants reported any complications from the procedure.
The stem cells dampen inflammation and help rebuild damaged tissue. In experiments with sheep, stem cells completely rebuilt damaged vertebral discs. MRI scans in humans found that stem cells seem to rebuild damaged discs in people also. The proper placement of stem cells can re-inflate vertebral discs that have dried out and cracked, losing their strength, and causing pain.
Degenerative disc disease accounts for about one-fifth of the cases of the U.S. chronic lower back pain cases. In a study of 100 patients with degenerative disc disease, there were substantial improvements in function and pain relief. A single injection of stem cells was enough to help about half of the patients to experience no back pain for 2 years, and some participants have been free of pain for 3 years. Fewer than 13 percent of the study’s control group who received a salt-water injection showed the same improvement. Larger stem cell studies have now begun.
A PRP study of 10 patients receiving an injection of platelet-rich plasma into an affected nerve root was effective in reducing pain. The study participants were followed by using VAS (Visual Analogue Scale), SLRT (Straight Leg Raising Test) and MODQ (Modified Oswestry Disability Questionnaire) to test for improvement. The patients showed improvements in their evaluation scores and the improvement was sustained during the following 3 months. None of the participants reported having any complications. This study found PRP can be a good alternative to epidural steroid injections and surgery to manage chronic prolapsed intervertebral disc pain.
A clinical study of 88 participants found PRP was a safe and effective procedure for neck and back pain caused by spinal disc herniation. The participants all had failed to obtain relief with previous conservative treatments. In this study, 38 patients were treated for cervical disc herniation, 38 for lumbar disc herniation, and 12 were treated for both cervical and lumbar disc herniation. 87 percent of the participants reported a successful outcome with no complications. The study followed the patients for up to 8 years to document their pain status.
What Types of Back Injuries Can Regenerative Therapies Treat?
Regenerative medicine has successfully treated patients with back pain caused by various spinal injuries and conditions including:
- Annular tears.
- Bulging discs.
- Chronic low back pain.
- Degenerative disc disease.
- Facet joint pain.
- Herniated disc.
- Lumbar facet injury.
- Lumbar radiculitis.
- Osteoarthritis of the spine.
- Pinched nerve (Radiculopathy).
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction.
It is important to remember that just as each patient is different, each patient’s pain is different. Treatment that works for one patient may not be appropriate in your case, or may not work for you. At the Novus Spine & Pain Center pain management clinic, we design treatments for each patient’s specific needs.
When Will I See Results?
The effects of stem cell and platelet-rich plasma therapies utilize natural growth factors from the patient’s own blood to address the source of the pain. Results will not be noticeable instantly, since time is needed for the stem cells or platelets to heal the body. Typically, patients begin to see a response in about 3 weeks after treatment. Afterward, the inflammation begins to decrease, and continues to diminish for several months.
For most patients receiving stem cell therapy, a single injection is all that is needed to eliminate their back pain. Many can expect the pain relief to last for the rest of their life. For patients with a severe degenerative disease, additional injections may be necessary to provide pain relief.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and specializes in regenerative therapy for treating pain and injuries. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.
Regenerative Therapy for Back Injuries Resources
Stem Cells to Relieve Low Back Pain? (WebMD)
Pain No More: Columbia doctor and team develop groundbreaking treatment (Columbia Business Times)
Are Stem Cells a Viable Treatment for Lower Back Pain? (Spine-Health)
Are Stem Cells the New Frontier for Back Pain Relief? (Advanced Pain Management)
Why Regenexx is a Better Option than Fusion Surgery or Steroid Epidural Injections (Regenexx)
Treating Bulging and Herniated Discs (Regenexx)
Chronic back pain stem cell treatment could cut need for opioids (New Scientist)
Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain & Injuries (Institute of Regenerative Medicine)
Multipotent Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Discogenic Low Back Pain and Disc Degeneration (PubMed)
Efficacy of Platelet Rich Plasma via Lumbar Epidural Route in Chronic Prolapsed Intervertebral Disc Patients-A Pilot Study (PubMed)
Relationship between bone mineral density and the frequent administration of epidural steroid injections in postmenopausal women with low back pain (PubMed)
Autologous Platelet Rich Plasma for Neck and Lower Back Pain Secondary to Spinal Disc Herniation: Midterm Results (Spine Research)
Treatment of discogenic back pain with autologous bone marrow concentrate injection with minimum two year follow-up. (PubMed)
Immunoselected STRO-3+mesenchymal precursor cells and restoration of the extracellular matrix of degenerate intervertebral discs (Journal of Neurosurgery)
Mesoblast Phase 3 Cell Therapy Trial for Chronic Low Back Pain Completes Enrollment (Globe Newswire)
These 7 Natural Remedies For Sciatica Pain Really Work! (NSI Stem Cell)
Stem Cell Therapy Back Pain (NSI Stem Cell)