What are Stem Cells?
All human bodies contain some cells that are undesignated and undifferentiated, meaning they have not been assigned a specific function. These simple, blank slate stem cells have the potential to become many different kinds of cells, and as such, stem cells can be crucial to the creation of new cells that can repair and maintain healthy tissues in injured or damaged areas. In other words, stem cells are a kind of template that can make up the cells of all of the body’s organs.
How Do Stem Cells Work?
Stem cells are relatively straightforward to understand. When they divide, a stem cell will create progenitor cells that, unlike regular stem cells, have the ability to specialize in a particular function, such as a red or white blood cell or a brain cell. Stem cells can also become the components of bone and cartilage, which makes them particularly appealing to those looking for a solution to orthopedic troubles.
How Can Stem Cells Treat Back Pain?
Dr. Melamed has seen excellent results using this procedure to treat back and sciatic pain related to conditions such as:
- annular tear
- disc desiccation
- disc bulges
- disc tear
- degenerative disc disease
- discogenic low back pain
- modic endplate changes
Dr. Melamed has also used Stem cell injections for degenerative changes and loss of cartilage in joints such as the knees, hips, and shoulders with excellent results.
To adapt stem cells for treatment of back-related issues, orthopedic surgeons focus on mesenchymal stem cells that, unlike embryonal stem cells, are obtained from living adult tissue. For example, bone marrow is comprised of mesenchymal stem cells that can become different musculoskeletal cells based on the environment. Using this information, you could conceivably use these stem cells to rebuild tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and possibly even bone marrow.
However, stem cell therapy for back pain is still largely in the experimental phase, though it has been shown that stem cells really can help treat bone fractures, regenerate articular cartilage in arthritic joints, and replace degenerative vertebral discs.
As times passes and more information on stem cell use is uncovered, expect these procedures to become more common.
What happens during stem cell treatment with Dr. Melamed?
This minimally invasive procedure uses stem cells and platelet rich plasma harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow. The procedure is done under twilight anesthesia, takes about 30 minutes to complete, and allows patients to return to desk work the next day.
The patient is brought to the operating room and a needle is used to aspirate bone marrow from the iliac crest. The bone marrow is then immediately processed to extract the patient’s own stem cells, protein factors, and platelet-rich plasma. This mixture is then injected into the intervertebral discs or the joint involved using fluoroscopic guidance. The patient spends about an hour in observation after the procedure and is sent home the same day.
This procedure is an excellent alternative to spine surgery or joint replacement for young and even some older patients with back and joint pain who wish to remain active. The procedure can work to halt and in most cases appear to even the reverse degenerative changes. Intradiscal stem cell injections may delay or even eliminate the need for future spine or joint replacement surgery.
Learn More About Stem Cell Therapy
If you would like to learn more about possible stem cell therapy for back pain in Marina Del Rey, contact the SpinePro team of Dr. Hooman M. Melamed to see what can be done for you. Call to speak with a representative.