Stem Cells Back Pain – What to know about the cells?
Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions which we hope can offer some insight into the role Stem Cells can play in the treatment of disk
Progressive Spine is the best method available to the people for the treatment of pain. The information of the cells is available with the experts to get the desired benefits in treatment. A deep insight about the cells is available to have more effective results.
What is a stem cell?
In simple terms a stem cell is a basic cell found in all of your body tissues that can grow in numbers and become any tissue type. Stem cells can multiply and remain the tissue type they already are or they can be manipulated to become a different tissue type. Stem cells have the ability to replicate into whatever tissue they are injected into.
What are the types of stem cells?
Stem Cells can be derived from 3 main tissue sources – Adipose(Fat) cells, Bone marrow and mesenchymal stem cells from the placenta of non-aborted births. There is no clear study which proves one type of stem cell is superior to another and all claim to be successful. No form of stem cell is FDA approved and they are therefore deemed to be investigational. The lack of FDA approved does not mean stem cell injections aren’t successful. After studying these three types of stem cells the International Spine Center believes the placental derived stem cells should have the highest success in the disk and have chosen that as our stem cell line. Our decision was based on theoretical advantages of the placental stem cells for the disk anatomy.
Fat derived stem cells are taken from a patient’s own fat cells. This procedure has potential for scarring, infection, dimpling of the skin and excessive bleeding. Also, these stem cells come from cells that have already differentiated into fat. Their ability to reverse course to become Chondrocytes may be limited as could their power to replicate. The same situation exists for bone marrow derived stem cells which have already developed into bone marrow cells. Removing bone marrow from your pelvis is also an invasive painful procedure. A. Stolzing 2008 in the journal, Mechanisms of Aging and Development showed decrease stem cell numbers and fitness from bone marrow with age.
Stem cells from placenta (Mesenchymal stem cells) have not yet begun to form into any tissue type so their ability to become chondrocytes may be more pure and powerful. The mesenchymal stem cells of the placenta may be more fit since they are brand new and not taken from an adult body where the stem cells may not be as healthy There is no procedure performed on your body to obtain these stem cells and they are obtained from live, healthy full term cesarean delivered placenta not the fetus.
The fitness of the placental stem cells is one theoretical advantage but the total number of cells should also be important. Because we can only harvest 5-6000 stem cells from the pelvis, the cells have to be incubated and injected back into the patient at a later date. This takes time and two procedures and the vitality of these cells cannot be guaranteed. The total number of cells obtained is far lower than fat and placental techniques where millions of stem cells are available.
Whereas bone marrow derived stem cells and fat derived stem cells may work in other body tissue where blood flow is abundant, the center of the disk lacks any blood vessels. Injecting stem cells alone may not be adequate without nutrition to feed them. Chondrocytes don’t like a lot of oxygen but like all cells, they require food to survive. Only mesenchymal placental stem cell injections contain a nutritional liquid made of factors that stimulates cellular and blood vessel growth. Embryonic stem cells have the most energy to reproduce plus we provide all the nutrition they require to grow. Fat and bone marrow techniques do not provide nutrition.
At the International Spine Center we inject our stem cells into the area of disk damage as seen on enhanced MRI. This technique is performed under local anesthesia using a small needle at an ambulatory surgery center. The whole procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and you can resume normal activity immediately. Follow up MRI scans are performed at 6 months and occasionally 12 months depending on the extent of your disease and if a disk repair was also performed.
What causes disk degeneration?
Disk degeneration is caused by decrease in disk cell (Chondrocytes) function and decrease matrix (The collagen of the disk). Water attaches to the collagen and when the collagen is lost the ability for the disk to hold water is lost as well. Normal disks are white due to high water content. Unfortunately, the collagen (like the boughs of a Christmas tree) decreases with age so the water (the ornaments on the tree) has nothing to hang onto. So just injecting water into a disk won’t help because without increasing the collagen the water won’t stay in the disk. Disk cells (Chondrocytes) are needed to increase the amount of collagen which brings water into the disk and reverses the aging process. Of course the aging of the disk can reach a point beyond which stem cells alone are inadequate. Further procedures, such as repair of the disk with a Lazerscope or microtubular laser annuloplasty (MLA) may be necessary to assist the stem cells.
What is the cost?
Due to the large volume of stem cells we use we have obtained preferential pricing from our suppliers and we pass that saving on to you. The procedure is performed under twilight anesthesia in an ambulatory surgery center which lessens the cost and because we perform the procedure at several convenient locations we are able to obtain competitive pricing from these ambulatory care centers. The cost for the procedure can be viewed on our Transparency in pricing page.
For more information on Disk Stem Cells or any other spine treatments we offer, please contact our office and make an appointment. One of our medical team will be happy to answer any and all of your questions and determine if one of our numerous treatment options is right for your spine.