The CDC estimates that over 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain annually. Unfortunately, some traditional medicine approaches only mask chronic pain symptoms instead of treating the root cause.
Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, aims to manage chronic pain by healing and replacing the damaged tissues that are the source of discomfort. One of the most exciting emerging methodologies in regenerative medicine is mesenchymal stem cell therapy.
What Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells?
Stem cell therapy harnesses the power of the body’s stem cells to repair and replace damaged tissue. Stem cells are the building blocks of all cells in the body. The unique capabilities of stem cells lie in their ability to divide and create more stem cells or specialized cells, such as brain, blood, or muscle cells.
Stem cells are the only cells in the body that can differentiate into different types of cells. While early stem cell studies were controversial for using embryonic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are found in adult skin tissue, muscle tissue, bone marrow, and elsewhere throughout the body.
For example, bone marrow MSCs are considered one of the most valuable types of adult stem cells, as they can differentiate into more specialized cells than other MSCs.
How Does MSC Therapy Treat Pain?
MSC therapy treatments extract stem cells from a patient, usually via bone marrow from the hip. The provider then injects the stem cells into the area that is causing a patient’s pain. Once in their new location, the stem cells can rapidly divide to create new cells that can repair and replace the damaged ones.
MSC therapy may be particularly effective at treating joint and back pain, including the following conditions:
Lasting wear and tear on the soft tissues protecting the bones of the joints can cause osteoarthritis, a painful condition where cartilage deteriorates and bones rub together.
Since stem cells can differentiate into cartilage cells, physicians treating osteoarthritis with stem cells work to restore the cartilage and fluid movements of the joints by creating new cartilage tissue.
Chronic Back Pain
Weak muscles, damaged vertebrae, and deteriorating discs can cause debilitating, chronic back pain. MSC therapy looks to restore the tissues of the spine, guiding stem cells into the site where damaged tissue causes instability and discomfort and prompting them to differentiate into the necessary tissue to restore spinal health.
Tendon and Ligament Pain
Tendon and ligament injuries may heal slowly because they typically receive limited blood flow. However, stem cell therapy has the ability to repair torn or strained ligaments and tendons, and in cases where surgery is necessary, it can help facilitate healing.
While the potential of MSC therapy in managing chronic pain conditions is still under investigation, early work using MSCs offers promising results for those suffering and exploring options.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions. The professionals at stemedix will break down exactly what is stem cell therapy.