Back pain is estimated to cause more than 264 million lost work days each year — amounting to two days for every full-time employee in the country. It’s also believed that at least 80% of the population will experience back pain to some degree at one point. Unfortunately, chronic back pain is notoriously challenging to treat, with many patients having to resort to opioids or invasive procedures to manage their discomfort. Now, however, there’s another alternative to consider: stem cells.
Potential Causes of Back Pain
One of the first reasons back pain can be so difficult to address is that it can have many root causes. The back is a complex network of bones, nerves, and muscle groups. There are thus many conditions which can cause pain:
- The low back has the largest muscle mass in the entire body. There are many muscles that can become tight, developing into areas that don’t fire properly, known as trigger points. Muscles around the spine can also atrophy, causing improper movement of the vertebrae.
- The sacroiliac joint, which is responsible for movement between the tailbone and hip, can weaken as a result of trauma or childbirth. Ligament stretching in this area can cause shooting pain in the hip, groin, or leg area.
- Spinal stenosis can occur when the small holes in the backbone which house the nerves shrink due to factors such as arthritis or bulging discs. The nerves then become compressed, resulting in sciatica or difficulty standing.
- Disc issues are another common cause for back pain. Discs in the spine serve as a cushion between vertebrae, absorbing shock. They can experience trauma due to injury or simple wear and tear over time. When the discs become compromised, they can press on nerves, causing pain such as sciatica. Degenerative disc disease can also develop when the discs wear out and collapse.
- The facet joints, which are located at the rear of each disc level, can also become injured, causing either isolated or radiating pain.
Stem Cell Treatment for Back Pain
One type of regenerative medicine therapy being offered for patients with back pain is platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. With this treatment, concentrated platelets are extracted from the patient’s own blood, then injected precisely into injured areas using x-ray guidance. This treatment has been effective in treating a range of back issues, including atrophy of the low back stabilizing muscles, herniated discs, and SI joint issues.
Experts are also using stem cells from either the patient, like adipose (fat) or bone marrow, or from a donated source, to minimize pain and improve function in people with disc issues. In addition, this stem cell therapy can also help patients with damaged facet joints, degenerative disc disease, and sacroiliac joint issues. Patients who undergo this treatment can experience a number of benefits, including the ability to sit comfortably for longer durations, especially in patients with disc tears.
As with any treatment, results for stem cell therapy may vary based on the severity and nature of each patient’s injury. Nonetheless, many patients with difficult-to-treat back conditions may benefit from regenerative medicine and find it to be an attractive alternative to invasive surgeries or habit-forming painkillers.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at https://www.stemedix.com. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.