This innovative treatment uses the body's stem cells to repair and regenerate damaged tissue to help relieve chronic pain. When these cells are administered to areas of pain, they produce more cells, promoting healing and tissue repair. While this treatment is still in its early stages of research and application, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center have seen success in relieving pain and increasing function and mobility for their patients.
There are two ways that stem cells may be administered – through the patient’s bone marrow, or through allograft tissue.
Stem Cells from Bone Marrow
Bone marrow has a high concentration of stem cells, and stem cell therapy for chronic pain makes use of that concept. Bone marrow is harvested from the patient and re-injected back into the body at the site of pain and degeneration. The intention is that the bone marrow will repair and rebuild the skeletal structures to improve pain and strengthen the damaged area.
Stem cell therapy has shown the most benefit for those suffering from chronic pain that is due to musculoskeletal conditions including degenerative disc disease, ACL tears, tennis elbow, golf elbow, arthritis, and other similar conditions. The bone marrow is injected into the area of pain, damage, or degeneration, with the goal of the stem cells working to repair and heal the damaged areas.
The procedure is not complicated and includes an injection that prepares the area for the stem cell procedure. Bone marrow will be harvested from the hip area, prepared for re-injection, and then will be injected into the area of pain or injury. A follow-up treatment of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to the site of pain to "activate" the treatment may also be beneficial in healing and relief of pain symptoms.
Stem Cells from Allograft Tissue
Living, healthy donors may donate stem cells from placental tissue following a full term pregnancy and scheduled Caesarean section. This form of stem cell therapy does not use stem cells from embryonic tissue. The stem cells from allograft tissue are minimally processed and preserved to maintain the integrity of the placental tissue and have been shown to support healing, reduction of inflammation, and soft tissue repair. In one clinical trial, patients saw an improvement in plantar fasciitis symptoms in follow up appointments after stem cell therapy from allograft tissue.