Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs when the cushioning discs between the vertebrae in the spine begin to thin out or break open. This may be a result of osteoarthritis, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The resulting pain is sometimes accompanied by radiating numbness or weakness in the extremities.
If the pain radiates down to the buttocks, thighs and into the legs, the damaged disc is found in the lower, or lumbar part of the back. If the damaged disc is located in the neck, or the cervical spine, the pain may radiate to the shoulders and arms. Degenerative disc disease in the middle of the back, or the thoracic spine, is a little less common because this part of the spine doesn’t experience the types of stresses that the cervical and lumbar spine usually experience.
Do I have Degenerative Disc Disease?
When a patient walks into our office with a back pain issue, we complete a physical examination and take a medical history. We also discuss the patient’s daily activities, regular sports they might engage in, and their work habits or chores. We check their reflexes and the range of motion of their arms and legs, note tender points and rule out fractures, tumors or infections that can be causing the pain. We frequently order an MRI to confirm the location of the damaged disc and obtain a baseline image before treatment. It’s important for us, and the patient, to have a complete understanding of the situation in order to recommend the best route of care.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment
Generally, the first thing that is attended to with degenerative disc disease is managing the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are often used at the beginning of a treatment program to control pain. “Pain killers” are not a permanent solution to pain relief, and should only be seen as short and temporary relief. More traditional approaches may also be used as well, such as heat therapy to control inflammation, and the intervention of a physical therapist to help strengthen the patient’s back muscles, also helps with pain relief.
For patients who have been struggling with pain for over 3 months and have been recommended to undergo surgery, we suggest looking into other alternatives before making a final decision. This is why we offer stem cell therapy for degenerative back pain conditions.
What Advantages Does Stem Cell Therapy Have Over Surgery?
- It’s a minimally invasive treatment, which results in less pain.
- The recovery time is generally much shorter – patients have gone back to work within two days. With surgery, it can take months for the patient to heal.
- There is an extremely low risk of complications, including bleeding, allergic reactions and infection.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are regenerative cells that have the ability to turn into any other type of cell in the human body, including damaged discs between vertebrae. In our facility, we utilize bone marrow-derived stem cells derived directly from the patient.
Bone marrow-derived stem cells have healing and growth factors that allow for regeneration of damaged or injured tissue. After we harvest the stem cells from the patient, the collection undergoes sterile treatment for concentration.
Once we obtain a small injectable volume, the stem cells are reinjected into the patient’s body at the site of damage or injury. This injection involves the use of imaging technology such as a fluoroscopy for precise application. After the procedure, healing continues for up to two years, although most of the healing occurs within six to nine months.
Stem cell therapy is a safe and exciting way to treat degenerative disc disease. We are happy to assist anyone who is looking for treatment for this condition and look forward to more advances in this line of work.
Call Orthohealing Center at (310) 312-8095 to learn more about treatment for back pain or degenerative disc disease. We may have a solution for you.