Right Path Pain & Spine Center of Davenport, FL, is committed to relieving pain and restoring mobility through regenerative medicine. This relatively new branch of medical treatment solves your body’s problems by addressing the root cause: damaged cells. One of the latest treatment options is the use of Mesenchymal Stem Cell therapy.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells, or MSCs, open up a world of possibilities for patients with joint pain, chronic back pain, injuries, and much more. We’ll explain what they are and how we use them at our practice.
What Is Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy?
Mesenchymal stem cell therapy uses MSCs to restore function to damaged parts of the body. The damage can be from injury or from aging, or even due to complications from previous surgery. Regardless of the cause of your problems, MSCs can provide significant pain relief and can actually reverse the damage caused by aging or other external factors.
The therapy works by harvesting MSCs and injecting them into the afflicted area. When MSCs are applied to a specific area, they release growth factors that tell healthy cells to multiply. As stem cells, they are also capable of forming tissues on their own, including bone, cartilage, fibrous tissues such as muscles and ligaments, and even nerve tissue.
Where Do MSCs Come From?
Stem cells were a controversial topic just a couple of decades ago. Research on stem cells began with embryonic stem cell lines, which required the destruction of viable embryos. Ethical concerns put a hold on further research, which forced medical scientists to explore new avenues of acquiring stem cells.
Since then, several sources of MSCs have been identified. MSCs can be harvested from skin tissue, muscle tissue, birth tissues such as cord blood and the placenta, and most importantly bone marrow. The latter option is considered the gold standard for MSCs as bone marrow stem cells are able to differentiate into more types of cells. They also have dozens of studies confirming their use.
Other sources of MSCs are more limited in their applications, which is why we choose to use the best source possible. We extract MSCs from bone marrow from the hip bone, which is easily accessible and makes for a minimally invasive process that takes between 2-4 hours.
How MSCs Differ From Other Stem Cells
There are other types of stem cells that have been used for regenerative medicine, but these are generally considered more difficult to use. Embryonic Stem Cells, or ESCs, as we mentioned were mired in controversy. Their use is even banned in some places. As part of our commitment to ethical medicine, we do not use ESCs at our practice.
ESCs were, for a brief time, quite exciting because of how powerful they were. ESCs could be forced to become almost any kind of cell. This makes them pluripotent stem cells. However, Japanese scientists have also discovered ways to create pluripotent stem cells without the use of embryos.
These induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, are also quite powerful. However, they are extremely expensive to make. Therefore, few doctors have been able to research their efficacy and put them to use. MSCs, on the other hand, have a wide body of research and are proven effective.
Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy Treatments
So, what can mesenchymal stem cell therapy do for you? At Right Path, we focus specifically on joint and spine problems that come from injury or age. Using MSCs, we can greatly reduce the symptoms associated with these issues, restoring function and mobility.
The discs between your vertebrae provide cushioning, stability, and flexibility for your spine. Aging can cause these discs to deteriorate and become thinner. This often leads to pain when bending or contorting in a certain way.
On the other hand, discs can become inflamed and swell, protruding and pinching nerves or other tissues. This can lead to pain and tingling sensations further down the nerve. In the worst cases, these discs can slip out of place or burst due to injury.
As this study shows, MSCs can provide significant relief to back pain caused by disc issues. Although more trials are needed to determine the best method of treatment, several long-term trials have already been conducted that show MSCs reduce pain and improve disc condition.
Chronic Back Pain
While lower back pain can be caused by disc issues, it can also be the result of damage to the vertebrae or weakening of the lumbar muscles and support structures. Weak muscles may cause the spine to bend, which creates uncomfortable pressure points in certain positions.
Chronic back pain is most prevalent in older patients and tends to flare up during or after physical activity. Unfortunately, the two most common methods of treatment sit on two different extremes. On one hand, conservative treatment involves the use of heat and ice combined with stretches and light exercises. The other end of the spectrum is spinal fusion surgery, a drastic and sometimes ineffective solution.
Studies have proven that lower back pain can be resolved with MSCs. One study in particular highlighted 4 cases that experienced an 80% total overall improvement using bone marrow MSCs. The patients even reported that their condition continued to improve one year after the initial treatment. Clearly, MSC therapy is an excellent solution for chronic low back pain.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries (SCI) can be some of the most debilitating injuries due to how critical the spine is for our entire body. Most noteworthy is that this type of injury actually tends to affect younger people more, perhaps due to their risk-taking nature. SCIs can result in loss of motor function, reduced sensation, chronic pain, and a host of other issues.
When the spinal cord is injured, there is initial damage caused by impact or laceration. However, this primary injury usually leads to secondary injuries caused by hemorrhage and a loss of spinal fluids. Therefore, each SCI requires careful examination and customized treatment. No two injuries are the same.
MSCs have been shown to help patients with SCI and secondary injuries. One trial showed improvements in 45.5% of patients. Results were usually achieved in 6 months or less. Patients who have less severe injuries or are treated more quickly seem to benefit more from mesenchymal stem cell therapy. If you have been experiencing pain in or around your spine for more than a couple of weeks, call us sooner rather than later.
Arthritis is quietly one of the biggest medical problems in an aging population. In the United States alone more than 54 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis causes chronic joint pain and can make physical activity or fine movement difficult.
There are two categories of arthritis. Fortunately, both of these have been treated successfully by MSCs as a number of studies have shown.
Osteoarthritis is caused by long-term wear and tear on the soft tissues inside your joints. Knee joints are particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis due to how much weight they have to support and how frequently they are used. When cartilage deteriorates inside the joint, bones can come into contact or other sensitive tissues can be impacted.
Cartilage has always been difficult to restore because it does not have blood vessels. MSCs, however, can turn into cartilage cells, meaning that lost cartilage can be restored with MSC injections.
One study reviewed the results of over a dozen trials using MSCs to treat osteoarthritis, and the results were impressive. In fact, Korea approved a treatment in 2012 that to date has worked on over 5,000 patients with an effective rate of over 97%!
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs when the immune system attacks tissues inside the joints and causes them to become inflamed. This inflammation creates stiffness and discomfort in the affected joints. Generally, the only treatment has been to prescribe medications that limit the immune response. However, this can have adverse side effects.
Interestingly, MSCs have been demonstrated to have immunoregulatory functions. In other words, they can actually dictate how the immune system responds. Research suggests that this allows the MSCs to operate without interference from the body’s defense mechanisms. As a result, studies have shown that MSCs can provide significant relief to RA patients.
The bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion your joints. They are particularly important in the shoulder, elbow, and hip. Bursitis occurs when these sacs become inflamed, most often due to repetitive motion and wear and tear. These three joints typically perform the same motions repeatedly, so bursitis is most common in these areas.
Bursitis also can affect anyone regardless of age, including healthy athletes. Runners are most likely to develop bursitis in the hip. Elbow bursitis is common in golfers, tennis players, and baseball players. Shoulder bursitis frequently appears in quarterbacks and basketball players.
Yet again, evidence shows that MSCs can provide relief. Interestingly, MSCs can also be harvested from the bursae and multiplied, then re-injected back into the area.
Ligaments are notoriously hard to repair without surgery, since ligaments get very little blood flow. Partial tears can require several weeks or a few months to repair with rest. Complete tears, however, have generally required surgical intervention to repair.
While there are still some cases where surgery is the only option, we have found that MSCs have given patients relief much faster and without the complexities that surgery involves. Even the best surgeries leave additional scar tissue which can increase the chance of a repeat rupture or limited mobility.
Studies show that using MSCs to stimulate the natural growth of ligament tissues leads to less scar tissue and produces better results. Before you go under the knife, consider giving MSCs a chance to heal your body naturally.
If you are experiencing a different issue from the ones we’ve described here, or aren’t sure if your condition can benefit from mesenchymal stem cell therapy, just give us a call. The field of stem cell research is constantly evolving and we are always looking for newly approved treatments that we can use to give our patients the best in regenerative medicine.
Combined PRP Treatment
PRP treatment also helps to stimulate the growth of healthy cells. It can be combined with MSC therapy to produce even better results in some cases. PRP is safe and easy to apply, taking less than a couple of hours. Ask about how we can put both of these regenerative technologies to use for you.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If joint pain or chronic pain has started to impact your life, don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Contact Right Path Pain & Spine Centers of Davenport, FL, today to book a consultation. Regenerative medicine can undo the damage done by injuries or years of activity, but the sooner you act, the better you’ll feel. Call us today.