Stem cells are unspecialized cells that develop into specialized cells when they receive certain chemical signals. For example, you may be aware of neurons, which are the cells that make up your brain, and osteoblasts, which are the cells that make up your bones. Stem cells are the raw materials from which each specialized cell is made.
Stem cell therapy makes use of the ability of these cells to transform into any cells that are needed by injecting them into tissues that need repair. In this blog, Bonaventure Ngu, MD, of Premier Spine Institute in The Woodlands, Humble, and Baytown, Texas, explains how stem cells can help injured spinal discs regenerate.
Disc degeneration refers to the wearing down of one or more discs in the spine. Unfortunately, spinal discs can get damaged for a number of reasons, such as through injury or wear and tear.
If a disc gets damaged, it has to rely on its blood supply to receive the nutrients and growth factors it needs to enable healing. Sometimes, the blood supply isn’t adequate, and the disc can progressively get worse. This is where stem cell therapy can come in. Studies indicate that injecting adult stem cells into damaged discs can help spur tissue repair and thereby help relieve pain.
To perform stem cell therapy, Dr. Ngu uses a needle to extract bone marrow from your hip. He then places the marrow in a centrifuge to separate the stem cells from the rest of the components in the marrow. Dr. Ngu then injects the stem cells into the tissue that needs healing. Because stem cells are sourced from your own marrow, you won’t have to worry about your body rejecting them.
Because stem cell therapy supports your body’s self-healing process, it may take time for you to see results. Consider a scrape on your leg. It takes time for the pain to dissipate and for your skin to begin healing. The same principle applies to stem cells, as it will take time for the stem cells to bring about healing in your damaged discs.
Furthermore, stem cell therapy often works best if it’s combined with other therapies and certain lifestyle changes. For example, if you smoke, quitting could help enormously. This is because smoking often leads to plaque build-up in the arteries, which can make it harder for blood to flow through the narrowed blood vessels. This can slow the rate at which blood can carry nutrients and growth factors to damaged tissues.
In the same vein, a sedentary lifestyle can slow down the rate at which blood travels through the veins and arteries.
If you have chronic back pain due to an injured disc, stem cell therapy may be able to help relieve your symptoms and heal your injury. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Premier Spine Institute today.