Columnists

Stem Cell Therapy in Action

Issue 45.17

Stem cell therapy is emerging in the field of pain management with encouraging early results, as it is being used to reduce pain in damaged and degenerated tissue. These undifferentiated cells have unique characteristics, such as the ability to self-renew and develop into a variety of cell types, including bone and cartilage cells, which make them useful for tissue repair and regeneration.  Stem cells are present in a variety of sources, some of which include bone marrow, fat, and umbilical cord blood.  Stem cell therapy is enticing because it is aimed at reducing pain by healing and regenerating cells in a problem area, in contrast to many current treatment options, many of which are limited to symptom management.  While more studies are needed for better understanding of the strengths and limitations of this treatment, results so far have been positive.

Following is a patient’s account of her experience with using stem cells for pain management.  She has given permission to share it.

Pattie came to Southwest Spine and Pain to discuss treatment options for her severe knee pain.  This pain, which had been present for many years and was getting progressively worse, limited her ability to walk, stand up from a sitting position, and perform many of her daily activities, such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping.  Pattie further voiced frustration that her pain interfered with her ability to pursue her passion of photography, which often required walking long distances or hiking for the perfect shot.

Over the years, Pattie has undergone many home-based treatments for her knee pain, including ice, topical creams, and bracing, as well as a variety of knee joint injections.  However, the treatments became less effective over time as her condition worsened.  She was trying to avoid surgery as long as possible, but her pain was demanding that she move forward.  She was already scheduled for surgery when she came to Southwest Spine and Pain to discuss any other options that were available to delay or avoid this surgery.  After a review of her previous treatments, she was introduced to the option of stem cell therapy for pain reduction.  After discussing the risks and benefits, she decided it was worth trying one last treatment option before surgery.

Two weeks after her stem cell knee joint injections, Pattie was excited to report a 40% reduction in knee pain and was pleased to learn that improvements were expected to continue for the next six to eight weeks.  By one month post stem cell injection, she was reporting a 70% pain reduction, the ability to walk farther than she had in years, and the strength to get up from a sitting to a standing position without assistance and with far less pain.  She was able to cancel her surgery and redirect the money set aside for medical expenses to pay for a cruise, where she was able to engage in activities including swimming and dancing, which she hadn’t been able to do for years!

The pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center have had much success in reducing pain and improving mobility for patients using stem cell therapy.  Although it is still in its early stages of study, the regenerative medicine field continues to advance through rigorous research and application, with the goal of reducing pain and restoring function.

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