Results for Stem Cell Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

Results for Stem Cell Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is one of the leading causes of neck and low back pain in adults. This medical condition results in many symptoms. It is caused by wear and tear on the spinal discs. In this article, we are going to talk about Stem Cell treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease.

Aside from back and neck aches, degenerative disc disease can result in: 

  • Numbness
  • Hot or shooting pains
  • Weakness 
  • A “giving out” sensation
  • Muscle spasms and tension
  • And more

The most common symptom of this condition is constant and low-level pain. Chronic pain can make it difficult to live a normal life. Because of the discomfort that comes from degenerative disc disease, researchers are looking for innovative treatments to help patients live more comfortably.  

Recent Phase III Trial Results for Stem Cell Therapies 

A recent randomized Phase III trial has shown that stem cell injections can help patients with degenerative disc disease. According to the study, a single injection provided long-term relief of back pain. The study was conducted using stem cell products from Mesoblast Limited, an Australian regenerative medicine provider.

Representatives from the company hope to meet with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up the approval of their product. The product in question is known as “remestemcel-L.” The company has been developing this stem cell product for several years.

Like many stem cell treatments, the product is made using bone marrow to harvest mesenchymal stem cells. Those cells are then injected into patients’ bodies to reduce inflammation. The product inhibits the development of certain inflammatory substances. Decreased inflammation reduces the patient’s pain.

According to the trial report, sixty percent of the injected patients reported little to no pain after a year. After two years, 54% reported minimal or no discomfort. The injections provided the most pain relief for patients who were in the early stages of the disease.  

Reduced Use of Opioids  

Studies like the one discussed above have given many patients and medical professionals confidence in the potential of stem cells. In the study by Mesoblast Limited, more than 400 volunteers participated. Many of the patients who experienced pain relief decreased their use of opioids. Across the study group, opioid use declined by 40%.

Patients in the control group who received a saline injection actually increased their use of opioids. Because of this, the company hopes that the FDA will fast-track the approval of remestemcel-L as a standard treatment for degenerative disc disease.

Future studies will be necessary to determine the full potential of stem cell therapies. Still, many patients have experienced significant improvements in their health and wellbeing by using stem cell therapies. If you are interested in using stem cell treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease contact a care coordinator today to learn more!

Six Remedies for Lower Back Pain Relief

Six Remedies for Lower Back Pain Relief

Lower back pain is a common issue many adults face. While it may resolve itself over time, you’ll still want to pursue ways to relieve discomfort in the meantime. Of course, any persistent pain should be addressed by a doctor, but here are some home remedies for lower back pain relief you can try first.

Get Moving

It may seem counterintuitive, but the right type of exercise could actually alleviate your back pain. Physical activity can increase blood flow to the lower back, which can help to loosen the muscles and accelerate healing. Moves that can strengthen the core and back, such as bridges, knee-to-chest stretches, and supermans may bring relief over time. Additionally, stick to low-impact cardio, such as swimming.

Use Hot/Cold Therapy

If you’re experiencing an acute back injury that’s lasted four weeks or less, use cold therapy such as a cool compress. Bringing your body temperature down can help reduce swelling and inflammation, and bring numbing relief. If you have chronic back pain, however, it’s a good idea to apply constant, low-level heat, such as a heated blanket or warming adhesive wrap.  

Stretch Regularly

Stretching moves can help reduce tension in the lower back and support mobility. Consider trying a yoga routine for your back. Moves like cat/cow, child’s pose, sphinx, and spinal twists can relax the back, mobilize the spine, and gently strengthen your muscles.

Assess Your Footwear

If you spend a lot of time on your feet, unsupportive shoes could be playing a role in your back pain. Look for a pair with cushioning and ample arch support, and avoid any heels. These distribute your weight improperly and could contribute to back pain. And, make sure you’re wearing the right size: shoes that are too snug will change your gait, putting excess strain on your back.

Find Ways to Beat Stress

Stress reduction is important for overall health, but especially for a healthy back. If your body is holding tension, it will likely manifest in the back and neck. Try to find healthy ways to minimize your stress. Deep breathing exercises, journaling, and spending time with loved ones to unwind can help.

Improve Your Sleep 

Getting ample sleep gives your body the opportunity to repair itself. Unfortunately, poor sleep posture can actually make existing back problems worse. Aim to maintain a neutral pose as you sleep, and try to stay on your back. Placing a small pillow beneath your knees can help maintain the natural curve in your lower back. If you prefer sleeping on your side, keep a pillow between your knees to reduce tension on your joints. Different types of back pain may respond to different therapies, so be sure to explore various home remedies. For any back pain that doesn’t fade after a few weeks, be sure to visit a healthcare professional. If you are experiencing chronic back pain, such as Degenerative Disc Disease or Spinal Stenosis, perhaps you may be a candidate for stem cell therapy to help with pain management and/or regeneration of damaged tissues. If you would like to learn more contact a care coordinator today!

Can You Live a Normal Life with Degenerative Disc Disease?

Can You Live a Normal Life with Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is an age-related condition that occurs when the discs of the vertebrae, located in the spine, deteriorate. Symptoms may include weakness, numbness, and radiating pain. The discs are responsible for absorbing shock, allowing the back to move freely. As they wear out, their ability to protect the vertebrae becomes limited. 

For people with the condition, symptoms like nerve and muscle pain, spinal instability, tingling and weakness in the muscles, and neurological symptoms may make it challenging to perform tasks. If your symptoms prevent you from being able to perform your work, having degenerative disc disease could qualify you for unemployment benefits. This is usually decided based on the degree of degeneration experienced.

While degenerative disc disease could require some modifications to your normal routine, however, it is possible to live a normal life with the condition. 

Ways to Lead a Normal Life with Degenerative Disc Disease

Finding a supportive team of healthcare professionals is one important pillar of maintaining your quality of life with degenerative disc disease. These experts may recommend the following tactics for controlling symptoms, or a combination thereof:

  • Optimizing your posture through physical therapy and ergonomic furniture to reduce pain
  • Using heat and cold therapies to control pain levels as needed
  • Seeking alternative treatments, such as regenerative medicine.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen 
  • Staying physically active with low-impact exercise to maintain strength, stamina, and flexibility
  • Using physical therapy to maintain strength and range of motion in the back and neck

Thus, even if you have to be out of work for some time or indefinitely, there are many lifestyle tactics and therapies you can explore to feel your best while living with this disease. If you would like to learn more then contact us today and one of our care coordinators will be happy to help!

Exploring the Role of Stem Cells in Spinal Surgery

Exploring the Role of Stem Cells in Spinal Surgery

Recent breakthroughs in the field of regenerative medicine continue to support the tremendous healing potential of stem cell therapy.  Until a few years ago, stem cell research was limited to only what could be gathered from the research gathered from embryonic stem cells; this research was limited by the well-documented ethical concerns surrounding the practice of harvesting stem cells from embryonic sources.

Fortunately, alternative – and less controversial – sources of stem cells, harvested primarily from autologous bone marrow and adipose tissue have demonstrated promise in treating many diseases ranging from autoimmune conditions to myocardial infarctions. 

Considering this, the ability of adult stem cells to undergo division and multipotent differentiation has garnered the attention of spinal surgeons and specialists around the world, specifically for the potential benefits of these stem cells in the treatment of a variety of spine issues related to neural damage, muscle trauma, disk degeneration as well as it potential in supporting bone and spine fusion.

Stem Cells in Spine Surgery

Although the rate of spinal surgery, and specifically lumbar, cervical and thoracolumbar fusions, has continued to rapidly increase over the last 20 year, there has not yet been a breakthrough in surgical technology that has consistently demonstrated the ability to reduce reoperation rates associated with these procedures; additionally, these procedures have demonstrated little success in reducing the issue of pseudoarthrosis in patients.

As a result, spinal surgeons have begun experimenting with using stem cells to support the process of bone growth and fusion. As stem cell research continued to evolve, the discoveries of the ability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) harvested from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle differentiate when cultivated in the correct microenvironment has led to the realization that these stem cells demonstrated a significant effect of the process of spinal fusion. 

Adding to the potential benefits of these stem cells are several animal model studies confirming the benefits of the much more available, and much easier harvested adipose-derived stem cell (ADSC).  In fact, several of these animal studies have confirmed similar fusion results observed when comparing MSCs and ADSCs.

Stem Cells in Disc Regeneration

Changes occurring in the discs of the spine and specifically starting in the second decade of life, contribute to decreased disc height that contributes to the impingement of nerves and the development of lower back pain consistent with Degenerative Disc Disease.

Until recently, treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease was limited to conservative management techniques, including work and lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, medication, and epidural injections, or surgery in the form of disc replacement or spinal fusion.

Although realizing the actual effects of stem cells therapy for treating this condition has been limited in humans (primarily due to concerns associated with the potential for an immune reaction to allogeneic stem cells in humans), several animal studies have demonstrated decreased disc degeneration as well as significant improvement in height and hydration of previously damaged discs.  In addition, small-scale studies in humans have demonstrated improvements in pain and disability within three months of stem cell treatment.

Considering this, Schroeder J et al. call for larger clinical trials designed to further explore the benefits associated with using stem cell therapy to treat Degenerative Disc Disease.

Stem Cells in Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) resulting from damage to the spinal cord most often is the result of motor vehicle accidents, falls, or injuries occurring during sports, work, or in the home; currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide between 250,000 and 500,000 people suffer an SCI each year[1]

SCIs range in severity, but most often are accompanied by some degree of tissue damage and/or cell death.  As a result, spine surgeons have been exploring the potential of stem cell transplantation with the hope of supporting functional recovery after an SCI is sustained. 

There are several phases associated with SCI.  Regardless of the specific phase associated with an SCI, scientists have realized that creating a microenvironment that enhances neuron and axon regeneration appears to be the most desirable outcome of stem cell therapy.  It is hypothesized that this is best achieved by suppression of the inflammation that typically accompanies cell apoptosis and necrosis.

Although embryonic stem cells appear to provide greater differentiation than adult stem cells, the ethical concerns surrounding their use have limited further exploration of these potential benefits. However, to date, adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) used in the treatment of SCI have not demonstrated immunologic reactions and have demonstrated the potential to promote axonal regeneration, suppress demyelination, induce nerve regeneration, and induce nerve regeneration.

Unfortunately, the in vivo differentiation of MSCs into neuron-like cells has been documented to be inefficient, meaning that MSCS is currently not capable of directly repopulating or physically restoring the tissue damaged in SCI. 

While there have since been studies exploring the transplantation of neural stem cells (NSC) that have demonstrated sensory and motor improvements after stem cell transplantation and when combined with other cell and growth factors, these improvements were not statistically significant. Considering this, the authors of this study indicate that it’s difficult to provide a definitive statement on the clinical potential of stem cell therapy for the treatment of SCI.

In conclusion, the authors point out that there are additional areas, including iatrogenic nerve and muscle injury resulting from spinal surgery, that have not yet been clinically addressed.  The authors also point out that greater standardization of in vitro experimentation and animal models may aid in the speed of translation of stem cell therapy in spinal surgery.

Source:  (n.d.). Stem cells for spine surgery – NCBI – NIH. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4300930/


[1] “sheets/detail/spinal-cord-injury – WHO | World Health Organization.” 19 Nov. 2013, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/spinal-cord-injury.

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