Editor’s Note: Our focus at Lose the Back Pain remains on providing natural methods of relieving pain and enjoying life. However, some individuals, such as those with nerve damage, may require more advanced treatments to fully recover. That’s why we’re bringing you this special guest article from Dr. Ty on a novel approach to treating severe back pain using stem cell therapy.
By Dr. G. “Ty” Thaiyananthan
When you have back, neck or joint pain, it makes sense to take more conservative routes to address the problem.
From non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to physical therapy and chiropractic, you can usually treat these particular types of pain without resorting to invasive measures. However, in some cases, these measures don’t relieve your pain, and you are faced with the daunting specter of surgery.
Deciding on surgery for a back or joint problem is often fraught with fear and uncertainty. Sometimes the surgeries make the problem worse, don’t fix the problem, or produce new problems as a side effect from the surgery itself. Surgery is not the only option, though.
New advances in medical technology have allowed for the use of ethically harvested stem cells to be used in the treatment of these conditions. Stem cell therapy is minimally invasive, has few side effects and is usually effective in treating pain.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the undifferentiated cells of the body. For instance, your body has specialized cells that make up the heart muscle, the cartilage in your knee, and the tissue of your brain. Stem cells are the precursors to all of these cells. They are the starting point, since life starts from one cell and divides, and they change their specialty depending on where they are located in the body.
Most of this happens in the growing fetus. The cells differentiate until they make up all of the cells of the body. Unfortunately, for some cells, adults do not retain these stem cells. So if a heart muscle becomes injured, no stem cells are present to manufacture new cells. Similarly, if you injure a nerve in your back or neck, the stem cells are not present to create new nerve cells, and the tissue remains damaged, causing pain.
Research has found that inserting stem cells into the injured area can cause the tissue to regrow. This is a great finding by scientists because it allows the cartilage, disc material and nerve roots to regenerate without needing surgery. Stem cells have come under fire for a few issues, though, and that may make you wary of trying this new procedure.
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Ethics and Stem Cells
Many ethical considerations need to be addressed when considering stem cells. The first consideration is where the stem cells are harvested from. Most believe that the cells are harvested from aborted babies, but this is actually not true. In the past, stem cells were obtained from fetuses that were not used in the in-vitro fertilization process. Many found this usage offensive, though, because these fetuses could have been implanted to create living babies.
Modern stem cell procedures use only ethically harvested stem cells. As the procedure became better researched, scientists found that stem cells could be extracted from umbilical cord blood, the placenta and the amniotic fluid of babies carried to term. No fetuses are harmed in the collection and use of stem cells.
This leaves the question in some people’s minds about who the donors of the stem cells are. All donors are rigorously screened for infectious disease. Every precaution is taken in harvesting the cells from the donor, using aseptic technique, and approved methods for decreasing the probability of infectious materials in the sample. All donors are screened for their medical history, any behavioral risks such as IV drug use and blood-borne diseases.
Stem Cells and Pain
The reason stem cells can help with pain problems of the spine and joints is that they help regenerate tissue. Once the stem cells are injected into the site, they quickly become acclimated to their surroundings. They interact with other cells in the area and begin creating those cells.
This is important because so many diseases entail the destruction of cells that cannot be regenerated. For instance, the cartilage in your knee can be destroyed due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Due to a lack of blood flow to this area and the age of the patient, the cartilage does not stand much of a chance of regenerating. Stem cells bring the healing directly to the area of injury in a minimally invasive way.
Once the stem cells get to work restoring cartilage, the joint can cushion itself like it did before. This decreases or eliminates pain in most cases. Stem cells are not only useful for cartilage, either. They are capable of differentiating into nerve cells that may be damaged due to disc herniation, spinal stenosis or spinal trauma. These cells would not be capable of repairing themselves without stem cell therapy, and the area would always send pain signals. With regrown nerves, the pain goes away.
The process for obtaining stem cell injections is hassle free, and it takes two office visits. On your first visit, you will consult with a physician who is an expert in stem cell therapy and how it can treat back pain. In addition, you should be screened by an internal medicine physician with a comprehensive physical exam and medical clearance. Finally, you may want to meet with a psychologist to ensure that your expectations for the procedure are within the limits of the therapy and you will be mentally prepared for the treatment.
The next visit is when the stem cells are actually injected. This is a minimally invasive procedure that takes about 45 minutes. You will be expected to take it easy for the day, but you can return to your normal activities in the next day or two. As for side effects, some patients experience flu-like symptoms for one to two days, but this is not common. The stem cells stay active in your spinal area or joint for up to two years, and they work during that time to replace tissue and heal your pain.
With this minimally invasive injection of stem cells directly into the problem area, you can expect a reduction in pain, restoration of mobility and a return to a normal life. You need not take the risks of back or joint surgery to feel good again.
BASIC Spine provides our own Stem Cell Therapy called inSRT, which allows you to regain your quality of life without traditional surgery. We have helped hundreds of people from all over the world overcome severe pain using these safe and ethical injections. I invite you to contact our office for free information on inSRT to see if this form of stem cell therapy is right for you.
Dr. G. “Ty” Thaiyananthan is founder of BASIC Spine, which specializes in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery and is at the forefront of pioneering new surgical techniques using stem cells and minimally invasive surgery to treat chronic neck and back pain.
Dr. Ty earned his medical degree from UCSF, did a general surgery internship and neurosurgery residency at Yale and completed a surgery fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
For more information on inSRT and stem cell therapy, please visit www.basicspine.com/contact.