Can Regenerative Medicine Relieve My Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain is among the leading causes of disability in the United States. About 70% of people under 50 experience intervertebral disc degeneration, which is the breakdown of soft tissue that cushions the area between each vertebra. When you’re over 50, that number rises to 90%.

Traditional treatments for back pain range from muscle relaxants and pain relievers to surgery. In recent years, however, regenerative medicine treatments have shown great results in treating chronic back pain.

With a thorough examination, the compassionate providers at Apex Integrated Medical Center in Chicago can diagnose and treat your back pain. Here, we discuss what causes back pain and two remarkable breakthroughs in treatment options.

Causes of back pain

Many things can lead to back pain, ranging from an obvious injury to more subtle wear and tear due to aging. Common causes include:

Muscle or ligament strain

Regularly lifting heavy things or making sudden, awkward movements can strain your back muscles and spinal ligaments. 

Bulging or ruptured discs

The soft tissue discs between your vertebrae can bulge out and even rupture. The bulging or ruptured disc material can press on a nerve, causing pain. 

Osteoarthritis

Just as with any other joint, arthritis can occur in the joints formed by the bones of your spinal column. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in older people.

Skeletal irregularities

Skeletal irregularities — such as scoliosis, in which your spinal column curves to one side — can result in back pain, usually in middle age.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis weakens your bone structure, leading to compression fractures in the bones of your spinal column. The compression of the bones and the nerves that run through them results in serious back pain.

Some back pain, such as that caused by muscle or ligament strain, can resolve on its own or with noninvasive treatments such as pain relievers and physical therapy. But if your pain does not resolve, you may have a more serious condition that requires a more extensive treatment plan.

Regenerative medicine treatments for back pain

Treatments for chronic back pain range from pain medications and steroid injections to invasive surgeries that remove or replace discs. Although these methods can be successful, regenerative medicine offers what may be a better solution, particularly for disc degeneration.

Regenerative medicine uses biological materials that help repair and regenerate damaged tissues. These nonsurgical techniques build upon your body’s own ability to naturally heal itself. Apex Integrated Medical Center uses two techniques to address chronic pain from many injuries and degenerative conditions. 

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

Plasma is the liquid part of your blood that provides a medium for the transport of the blood cells. Platelets are blood components high in growth factors that help your blood clot and also prompt growth necessary to healing.

PRP therapy has shown great success in treating chronic back pain due to disc degeneration. In one recent study, patients reported at least a 50% improvement in their pain with this therapy.

All it takes is drawing blood from your arm and processing it to separate out the platelets for your PRP solution. The platelet-rich plasma is injected directly into the intradisc space, where it goes to work to bring healing to your damaged tissues. And PRP comes from your own body, so there’s no risk of rejection.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)

A stem cell is one that has not yet developed into a specific kind of tissue, meaning it has the potential to develop into any number of tissues — including bone and cartilage. Mesenchymal stem cells are harvested from the umbilical cord of healthy, full-term babies who have been pre-screened as donors.

Once harvested, the MSCs are injected into the area where you’re experiencing chronic pain. Some patients who’ve received MSC treatments have reported dramatic decreases in pain, with documented improvement in disc regeneration. 

By using regenerative medicine to treat disc degeneration, patients avoid potential side effects of surgery, and these treatments address the primary problem of tissue degeneration. These techniques can also treat other types of pain, including osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, tendinitis, and rotator cuff tears.

If you’re experiencing chronic back pain and want to try something new, contact our office to make an appointment. Find out if regenerative medicine treatments might be right for you!

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