Can Stem Cell Therapy Offer Relief for Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain can affect anyone and often, it can create excruciating pain. It is a debilitating medical condition which severely impacts a person’s quality of life doing so every day.
It was found through analysis of the Global Burden of Disease that lower back pain was ranked as the largest contributor to disability from almost 300 conditions within the study.
Although lower back pain does tend to present itself more frequently in older age groups, it can affect anyone. The number of people with the condition has increased in the last few years as a result of the ageing population.
The condition in many cases is caused by structural damage to the intervertebral discs, this can either happen as a result of a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease (DDD).
Currently, the degeneration of the spine develops as a result of wear (spondylosis), so, lower back pain develops a naturally over time, but it can have a range of pain from a sprain feeling to ruptured discs.
The BMJ journal found that almost 40% of people in the UK present a degree of disc degeneration.
Added to this, the cost on the patient cannot be quantified, it dramatically affects both to their life quality and their finances.
During the search for alternative treatments, numerous researchers have predicted the effectiveness of stem cell therapy in treating disc injuries within new studies.
They predicted new stem cell therapy could be the answer, by using MSC types of stem cells, finding them to be a good alternative to current treatments.
Within modern medicine often the causes of lower back pain are ignored. Doctors tend to prescribe analgesic medications in a bid to sooth pain. Commonly prescribed medications include opioids, NSAIDS, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, counter-irritants and epidural steroid injections.
While these treatments work, they have their downsides they have potentially prevalent side effects, including, adverse drug interactions, addiction, organ damage.
Other treatment options include physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), acupuncture and in extreme cases, surgery.
Unfortunately, these current treatments do not give satisfactory results, mainly a because the medications do not address the underlying condition, only treating the symptoms rather than the real cause.
In the search for treatments beyond analgesics and surgery, several researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of stem cell therapy in treating disc injuries in both humans and animals.
Whereas in contrast to current medication, stem cell therapy not only treats the symptoms within trials, it also addresses the underlying cause. These developments have been recognised by Leung et al. (2006) and Drazin et al. (2012) who have highlighted the potential for mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to treat intervertebral disc degeneration in laboratory studies. They examined the potential for mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to treat intervertebral disc degeneration in laboratory animals.
This theory was placed to the test and in 2011, 10 patients were treated with MSCs stem cells to help with lower back pain and disability. It again proved effective in 2015 when Pettine et al. (2015) found that stem cell treatment dramatically reduced pain within 26 patients who stated that their pain had been significantly reduced after receive therapy of autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells.
Just this year, Centeno et al. successfully used stem cell treatment in 33 patients with lower back pain. It was reported that: “no safety issues, substantially reduced pain, increased function and reduced disc bulge size in most patients.”
Within the US there are currently multiple research companies looking into the advances of this treatment for lower back pain.
BioRestorative Therapies uses bone marrow stem cells to treat chronic lumbar disc disease and stated: “not only could this (stem cell) program potentially eliminate surgery in many cases, but it could also provide substantially more effective treatment than current non-invasive therapies with a design to be curative.”
DiscGenics, a biotech company based in Utah, has received FDA approval for a study of stem cell therapy to treat patients with intervertebral disc disease.
“We believe it has the potential to offer pain relief and restored function to millions of patients suffering from the debilitating effects of lower back pain,” DiscGenics CEO Flagg Flanagan told The Salt Lake Tribune.“Receiving the go-ahead from the agency to begin in-human trials is a critical step forward for our clinical program.”
DiscGenics plans to begin enrolling 60 patients in a new study before the end of the year.
The progress of this treatment is looking so promising that there is hope that this could be open for the public in less than ten years.
Baby Teeth Contain Stem Cells
We believe the best stem cells to use in emerging treatments will be the patient’s own stem cells as this doesn’t require a search for a suitable donor and in turn, eliminates chances of the transplanted cells being rejected.