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​New Clinical Trial Underway for Stem Cell Back Pain Treatment

Posted at 1:13 PM on Jan 29, 2019


A new study is underway in the United States that could go a long way in informing medical professionals of the efficacy of stem cell treatment for patients who suffer from chronic back pain.

Stem Cell treatment is becoming a viable alternative to back surgery for many patients suffering from degenerative disc disease (DDD) or spinal facet disease. Researchers at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have entered 24 back pain patients into the trial that will deliver either two stem cell injections or that of a placebo. The stem cells will be harvested from bone marrow from within the patient.

Much of the early work in this field has been devoted to chronic injuries. Currently, dramatic improvement in recovery times for acute and sub-acute injuries are being seen with stem cell treatment. The most recent trial in Cleveland is focused on finding and fixing the root cause of back pain before the need for more invasive procedures is needed.

“The most significant unmet need is a therapy that cannot only improve the patient’s pain and function, but has the ability to reverse, halt or slow disease progression,” University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center researches have said.

What is degenerative disc disease?

Spinal disc degeneration is one of the most common causes of back pain, affecting, in particular, the lumbar spine (low back). Spinal discs are soft, compressible structures that separate the vertebrae of the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers, allowing the spine to flex, bend, and twist.

There is a normal amount of expected wear and tear of our spinal discs as we age. On a cellular level, there is a continual loss of healthy cells inside the disc that is responsible for the disc’s structure. Over time, normal cells are damaged and hydration is lost, leading to tears in the internal structure of the discs.

When discs degenerate, mobility is affected and function is limited, resulting in symptoms that include stiffness, weakness, and ultimately, unrelenting pain.

What is spinal facet disease?

Spinal facet disease is one of the most common causes of neck and back pain and can cause pain at any level of the spine. The spinal facet joints are located on both sides of the back of each spinal segment. They connect each spinal level and are responsible for stabilizing the vertebral bodies and counterbalancing the intervertebral discs.

The facets can be injured during acute trauma often seen in flexion-extension injuries such as a whiplash event or sports injury. The surfaces of the facet joints are covered by articular cartilage and are also prone to chronic degenerative arthritis much like the larger joints such as knees and hips.

Pain that is caused by facet dysfunction is typically isolated to the back of the lumbar spine, thoracic region, and neck. The discomfort can be isolated to one side or may affect both sides of the spine at once.

The pain may radiate into the muscles but does not extend into the extremities like sciatic pain that is caused by a disc herniation. Typically the pain is worsened with extension and or rotation of the neck or back.

When the facet joints are injured mobility is affected and function is limited, resulting in symptoms that can mimic disc disease such as stiffness, weakness, and ultimately, unrelenting pain.

About Twin Cities Pain & Regenerative Medicine

As with all new stem cell treatment trials and studies, the team at Twin Cities Pain & Regenerative Medicine will closely monitor the results. We are keenly interested in all new stem cell studies and we report on their results often.

Our Medical Director Dr. Constantin Starchook has been performing stem cell procedures for back pain for several years and is a leader in this treatment in Minneapolis and throughout the Midwest. To make an appointment to see Dr. Starchook, please call us at 952-831-7246 or complete our online form.