If you have chronic back pain, it is important to be aware of all your treatment options before considering surgery. A new technique to heal structures of the back uses a component of the patient's body: stem cells.
Stem cells are the blank slate of cells: They can become other cells in the body. The cells used to treat back pain and other chronic pain conditions are called mesenchymal, and they can become bone, cartilage or fat cells depending on the environment they are put in.
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Adult cells are used, which differ from embryonic cells that can become any other type of cell. Taking the cells from an adult eliminates the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research from this form of treatment.
Stem cells may be able to treat a range of conditions due to their versatility, including degenerative disc disease, vertebral fracture, ligament damage and facet joint syndrome. Research is underway to determine the efficacy of this new therapy in treating various types of back pain causes.
Mesenchymal cells are taken from bone marrow, usually from the patient's hip. This may be painful depending on the technique used. The company Regenexx uses a small needle to take a sample from the hip marrow and claims that this is a relatively painless procedure. After the cells have been isolated from the marrow, they are generally combined with platelets from your blood which contain growth factors.