Can Stem Cells Help Degenerative Disc Disease?

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Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a condition that nearly 30 million people are diagnosed with each year. It is a chronic condition that can be debilitating.

Many of those who suffer from DDD experience significant back pain. This can result in a decreased quality of life for some patients. In severe cases, standard non-operative treatments for DDD may not be effective.

What Causes Back Pain in Degenerative Disc Disease?

Many elements of the spine can result in painful sensations. However, intervertebral discs are believed to account for about half of all instances of chronic back pain. Intervertebral discs act as ligaments to hold together the vertebrae in the spine. The soft tissue of these discs helps to absorb impacts. The spine consists of these soft discs and the bone of the vertebrae. 

Intervertebral discs are constituted by a gelatinous center and an outer ring of fibrous tissue. Patients who suffer from degenerative disc disease often experience a decrease in the water content of their spinal discs. This reduces the discs’ ability to absorb shocks to the spine. 

Degeneration of intervertebral discs also reduces their height. This can lead to a compression of the spinal nerve roots. When these nerves become compressed, the patient may experience a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Sciatic pain
  • Loss of muscle strength in extremities
  • Sporadic discomfort
  • Lower backache

If the degeneration of spinal discs is severe enough, those who have DDD may experience decreased mobility and severe chronic pain. In some cases, weakened disc tissue can result in slipped or herniated discs.

Bone Marrow Stem Cell Treatments for DDD

Standard treatments for degenerative disc disease do not have the potential to halt disc deterioration. Rather than resolving the underlying issue, most traditional treatments only alleviate symptoms.

However, recent research has suggested that stem cell therapy may be able to drastically improve the conditions of those who are living with DDD.

One relevant metadata review was conducted through Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in 2012. This study suggested that injections of bone marrow concentrate (BMC) into intervertebral discs could present significant benefits for patients with DDD.

Additionally, a clinical trial in 2017 suggested that small 2 mL injections of BMC helped DDD patients avoid the need for surgery. Patients in recent studies who were treated with bone marrow stem cells also saw:

  • Significant decreases in back pain
  • Enhanced disc morphology
  • Increased disc function

Patients who received these stem cell treatments showed no adverse effects. Preclinical findings like these have given physicians and patients reason for optimism.

This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for back pain, also known as Stem Cell Therapy for back pain. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.