Envisioning a Future Without Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain, especially in the lower back and neck, is an unfortunately familiar condition for people all over the globe. Chronic back pain is the most common musculo-skeletal condition in the world, with an estimated 632 million people currently suffering from lower back pain alone. It is also the main cause of disability, resulting in 100-200 billion dollars in economic losses in just the United States. As populations of developed nations are aging, most people in these countries are predicted to experience chronic back pain at some point in their lives. Therefore, considerable interest has been paid recently to developing effective therapies for these debilitating disorders.
Development of chronic back pain is associated with degeneration of the intervertebral discs (IVDs) in the spine. IVDs are the soft, fluid-filled collagen and fiber structures that fill the spaces in between vertebrae, providing cushioning and preventing damage to the bones as the back bends or performs impacting motions. As people age, these IVDs gradually lose structure and accumulate damage, reducing flexibility and strength, and may even develop cracks or slip from their proper positions. Furthermore, over time the IVDs gradually lose their ability to repair themselves, resulting in thinning, damaged, or deformed disks that cannot adequately protect the vertebrae anymore, resulting in pain.
Given the other areas for which stem cell therapy has shown potential, IVD regeneration by stem cell replacement therapy has gained a lot of interest lately as a safe and effective means to treat or even prevent IVD-related back pain. Many doctors, including those at Rejuva Stem Cell Clinic, have already been treating a number of different joint injuries and conditions with stem cell restorative techniques, and have shown promise in the use of stem cells for improving spinal health and reducing patient back pain as well.
Due in part to their low blood flow, IVDs do not naturally have as great a capability to repair themselves as other bodily tissues, and lose these regenerative properties further as a person ages. This is where stem cell replacement therapy comes in: stem cells obtained from banked umbilical cord blood can be injected into worn or damaged IVDs, where they can proliferate and turn into disc cells to replace the ones lost. Multiple clinical trials that tested the use of bone marrow-derived stem cells in IVD regeneration found improvements in the health of the treated IVDs as well as lower amounts of pain reported by the patients after the therapy was performed. However, even more benefits can be gained by using healthy stem cells from umbilical cords, since they are known for compatibility with non-relatives, and have minimal risks or side effects. That is one of the reasons why we use stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood as opposed to any other source.
These recent clinical successes give hope to the vast numbers of people suffering from these debilitating conditions, and have a potential for reducing the immense healthcare cost burden of chronic back pain globally. Likewise, people can now look forward to aging comfortably, in a world where getting older does not have to be painful.
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Zeckser, J., M. Wolff, J. Tucker, and J. Goodwin. “Multipotent Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Discogenic Low Back Pain and Disc Degeneration.” [In eng]. Stem Cells Int 2016 (2016): 3908389.