Regenerative Medicine Uses And Future Potential …

What Is Regenerative Medicine? If youre suffering from ongoing, nagging chronic pain that hasnt benefited from other treatments, you could benefit from an exciting new area of pain management known as regenerative medicine. These minimally-invasive treatments offer patients pain relief, while reducing the likelihood of infection and avoiding the need for surgery. For many patients, regenerative medicines can help them get their lives back by jump-starting their bodys own natural healing processes.

Regenerative medicine includes treatments like PRP therapy and stem cell therapy. The most common conditions that have been successfully treated using regenerative medical procedures include arthritis andinjuries to cartilage, tendons, muscle, bone, spinal discs, and other tissue types. For many patients, it can help them:

In this post, we talk about how these treatments work and if they could relieve your pain.

For these patients, regenerative medicine may be able to help. Regenerative medicines are cutting-edge therapies that use chemistry, medicine, robotics, biology, computer science, genetics, and engineering to construct a biologically compatible structure for many different tissues found in the body.Although relatively new in the field of acute and chronic pain management, regenerative medical procedures do date back as early as 1962.

Regenerative medicine offers a number of different benefits, including:

The following TED Talk gives a greater overview of the possible future benefits of this therapy.

The vast majority of early regenerative procedures were tissue-based, being developed for skin grafting. The first successful tissue that was engineered for grafting procedures was finalized in the 1970s, a mere eight years after the first synthetic tissue was developed. Howard Green and colleagues from Harvard Medical School began by harvesting a skin biopsy, later perfecting the practice of growing skin epidermis.

Following these advancements, researchers developed regenerative medical improvements in stem cell research, enabling successful bone marrow transplantation for individuals suffering from leukemia.

Having discovered the ability of the body to organize and regenerate tissue after cell death, researchers aimed their future studies at the goal of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering to replace tissue that had been damaged, lost through injury, or deteriorating with advanced age. Many diseases and injuries that result from failing tissue could potentially be successfully treated using regenerative medicine therapies.

Symptoms will vary patient to patient, but may include:

Pain is thought to be an indicator of tissue damage or an underlying injury. A number of existing treatments can help a patient cope with chronic pain, but dont fully address the underlying damage or injury. New regenerative medicine therapies can target the underlying problem and promote the bodys natural healing processes. Patients who experience the following list of conditions may be viable candidates for regenerative medicine.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint condition that causes degenerative cartilage changes in the joints. It is believed that the damage can be the result of wear and tear on the joint through a number of years or as a direct result of a specific injury. With enough damage to the cartilage that protects the joint, there is a high risk opposing bones will rub directly against each other. This direct contact causes damage to the ends of the bones and a significant inflammatory response and pain.

Traditional treatment approaches only help to manage the pain and not cure the condition. Stem cell therapy is believed to be more fitting since the goal is to repair the condition and reduce the bone-on-bone contact.

This is a degenerative condition of the individual bones of the spine, called vertebrae. Most commonly, spondylolisthesis occurs when the vertebrae slips over one another or becomes dislocated. Patients may experience nonspecific low back pain because a large number of individuals with this anatomical distortion do not present to their physician with related symptoms, including pain.

With spondylolisthesis the nerves around the weakened vertebrae can become compressed, resulting in pain and potentially muscle weakness. These symptoms can include:

Estimates are that 12% of the population has had difficulties with spondylolisthesis.

This common condition is characterized by a narrowing of the spinal canal. With spinal stenosis there is a restriction from this narrowing that results in neurogenic claudication. The spine is a row of 26 bones that allows movement and bending. Through the center is an opening, or canal, that protects the spinal cord. The narrowing with spinal stenosis can occur in the center, in the canals, or the spaces between the vertebrae. This narrowing puts pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord and can result in pain or numbness in the legs or shoulders, depending upon where the restriction is located.

Spinal stenosis is more common in individuals over the age of 50 years, but may occur in younger people who suffer an injury to the spine or are born with a narrowing of the spinal canal. Generally, pain specialists suggest using conservative or lifestyle changes to manage pain from this condition. If that doesnt work, patients may find relief with regenerative medicine techniques.

Spinal deformities are genetically linked issues that are related to the natural curvature of the spine. They generally involve the entire length of the spinal column and are relatively uncommon.

Conditions can affect the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spinal regions and symptoms will vary widely depending upon the location. Some of these conditions are visible at birth, while others are only diagnosed when signs and symptoms develop.

A compression fracture is typically caused by osteoporosis and has a higher prevalence rate among post-menopausal women and in those individuals with a long history of corticosteroid use. These fractures result in a decrease in height of the vertebrae of at least 15 to 20%.

In one study, which examined 7,000 women over the age of 65, researchers found that 5% had suffered a compression fracture over a four-year period. Previous studies have suggested that nearly 4% of adults evaluated in a primary care setting could attribute back pain symptoms to a compression fracture.

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that results in symptoms from changes to the vertebral discs in adults as they age. The aging process increases the risk of tears to the disc, which is a likely cause of this type of pain. Spinal discs are soft and compressible that helps cushion the spinal column, which allows the spine to flex, twist, and bend. Although it can occur anywhere along the spine, it most often occurs in the lower back and neck. The pain can occur throughout the spine but in some instances affects the intervertebral disc.

Treatment modalities include physical therapy, pain medications, spinal fusion surgery, and steroid injections. New advances in regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy can help patients suffering from degenerative disc disease. Following extraction of the patients stem cells, usually from the bone marrow in the hip, the cells are engineered, concentrated, and injected into the site of the injury.

A herniated disc is characterized by damage to the intervertebral discs, which cause them to bulge from the intervertebral space or to rupture completely. The daily stress of movement, poor posture, injuries, and age can cause them to bulge, rupture, or herniate. The expansion of the disc material puts pressure on the surrounding nerves and spinal column, which is believed to be the source of pain. Herniated discs are more commonly found in aging people. Treatments include physical therapy, which has shown promise in relieving pain and improving the ability to function daily, however, it requires a significant time commitment in the therapists office and in daily home exercises.

Surgical treatment options may be suggested to cut out or remove the bulging or herniated material from the spinal column. The removal of the herniated disc carries a number of different risks related to the area of the spinal column where the disc is located and the weakened area of the column following surgery. Surgery is not always successful and there is a slight risk of damage to the spine or nerves, and risk of infection. New techniques from regenerative medicine using a patients own stem cells has shown good results with regeneration and rebuilding of the network of cells that make up the injured disc.

This is a common form of chronic foot pain that occurs between the ball of the foot and the heel. There is a thick connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, called the plantar fascia, which connects the ball of the foot to the heel. This plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and can become strained from a number of different sources, including overuse, tight calf muscles, and poor foot placement. The damage forms tiny tears along the ligament, which is the likely source of pain. Treatments usually target the underlying condition, and then the symptoms of pain.

Regenerative medical treatments are an ideal choice for patients who have chronic pain in the plantar fascia and have corrected the underlying biomechanical issue that caused the initial condition. These therapies will promote healing of the damaged tissue. In fact, several studies provide realistic support for the use of platelet rich plasma therapy as an effective method of treatment to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

The sacroiliac joint is a large joint area that is located at the base of the spine. The joint connects the spine to the hip, or pelvis. In many cases, the individual can identify an injury that transpired previous to the onset of pain. Causes of this type of pain include:

There is limited evidence that current treatments are successful. Once a doctor relieves the underlying cause of pain, regenerative medicine may affect some degree of pain relief. This pain relief appears to last longer than that of steroid injections.

Also known as sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy occurs when a herniated disc, often between L5 and S1, pushes against the nerve. Patients experience pain that travels down the leg. The primary goal is to reduce the size of the disc and reduce the compression on the nerve root, thus reducing the pain.

There are a number of different treatment options for patients who suffer from lumbar radiculopathy. However, if they are unsuccessful, or if patients do not receive relief from their pain, they can be a candidate for stem cell injections.

In cervical radiculopathy, patients experience chronic pain originating from the cervical spine, or the neck area. When a disc in the neck pushes against a nerve root exiting the cervical spine, it causes pain to travel down the arms.

Radiculopathy in younger individuals can be from a herniated disc or neck injury. Older adults may suffer but physicians expect to also find osteophyte formation causing narrowing of the foramen, a reduced disc height and degenerative changes in the intervertebral joints.

Some patients who experience severe, unremitting back pain choose to undergo surgery to gain relief. Unfortunately, some patients may continue to suffer pain following surgical repair, which is recognized as a failed back surgery. Causes include:

Individuals with a history of other emotional disturbances, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, depression, or anxiety are at an increased risk of developing chronic pain conditions following a back surgery.

Pain symptoms of a failed back surgery are usually dull, aching pain that is diffuse across the back and legs. Some patients do suffer from stabbing, pricking, or sharp pain in the limbs. When other treatments have failed to relieve pain following a failed back surgery, regenerative medicine treatment options might be considered.

Further, regenerative medicine therapies are relatively new and historically have very few studies documenting their effectiveness on different types of pain conditions. The FDA has not approved the use of adult stem cells to treat aging or to prevent, treat, or cure any disease or medical condition mentioned. Because of this, your insurance may not cover the cost of these procedures.

In addition, many regenerative medicine studies and treatments involve the use of living stem cells.Both legal and ethical issues are inherent in the use of embryonic stem cells. Although stem cell research holds great promise for the development of successful treatment modalities for conditions that thus far have no permanent treatment, research also raises both ethical and political controversies. However, reprogramming adult stem cells to produce pluripotent stem cells avoids these ethical issues that are specific to embryonic stem cell research. Adult or pluripotent stem cells are used for the majority of all regenerative pain medicine approaches, but always talk to your doctor if you have further questions.

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