The field of regenerative medicine is constantly expanding and discovering ways to work with the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself. In this area of practice, several types of stem cells are used. These cells are attached to blood vessels. When a part of the body is injured, blood vessels release stem cells to help repair the body. For the past 20-plus years, doctors have utilized bone marrow stem cells, also called mesenchymal stem cells, to orchestrate necessary rebuilding after an injury. Some of the most common injuries we see and treat with stem cells are caused not by trauma but by wear and tear. Here, we discuss stem cell treatment for degenerative disc disease.
What is degenerative disc disease?
The spine is made up of bones and discs that sit in an alternating pattern. Bone (vertebrae), disc, bone, disc, and so on. The discs that separate the bones of the spine act as shock absorbers. They also maintain the space that is necessary for nerve roots to pass through the spine and into the body. In areas where spinal discs carry a heavier load, such as the low back, the risk of disc degeneration is relatively high.
Disc degeneration is one of the most common spinal conditions to occur. It may be associated with the natural aging process because, as we grow older, the strength and structure of joints and other body parts can decline. Spinal discs are similar to joints in that they are normally plump with water. Biochemical changes in the body can diminish how much water is held in necessary structures. As a result, body parts like spinal discs can become dry and fragile. Discs may herniate and release proteins that cause inflammation and nerve irritation.
Stem Cells for Back Pain
Studies indicate the value of adult stem cells, which are obtained from the patient’s body, can decrease back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. The treatment works by introducing mesenchymal stem cells directly into the area of injury, the area where a disc has become weak. The theory is that the stem cells will help regenerate the fibrous connective tissue that makes up the disc, restoring its integrity.
Stem cell therapy has demonstrated safety and efficacy in treating back pain related to degenerative disc disease. The best results are achieved in younger patients with one or two affected discs.
There may be many things you’d like to leave behind after 2020. Make back pain one of them! Call (813) 920-3022 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Watson.