Joint Preservation Blog

December 2, 2008

Back Pain and Stem Cells

Filed under: Back/Lumbar — Tags: , , , , , , , — D @ 9:23 pm

Three years ago, using guidance from the animal research, we got together with one of the local universities and tried placing bone marrow derived, mesenchymal stem cells into degenerated lumbar discs to treat back pain.  This was an IRB approved study and a spectacular failure, meaning we saw little changes in the discs on MRI and most patients reported little relief of back pain.  This past year we then set out to understand why this worked so well in animals, but failed to work in people.  First, degenerated discs in people that cause back pain have really poor nutrition and oxygen supply, not so in the animals being treated without back pain.  So we made a series of changes to technique and cell preparation to get around these issues.  We are happy to say that after several years of learning how to make this work , we can report good, reliable results in treating back pain with stem cells.  We can reduce the size of disc bulges and contained herniations by repairing the back of the disc with adult stem cells. This is using highly specialized techniques to place the cells via fluoroscopy without the need for surgery.

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