Regenerative treatments for back and neck pain – an introduction
Regenerative treatments for back and neck pain are an exciting advancement in orthopedic and spinal medicine. Innovative treatments such as injections with platelet rich plasma or bone marrow aspirate stem cells are intended to harness the body’s natural healing potential to repair damaged and diseased tissue and relieve pain and other symptoms.
Unlike many conventional therapies, regenerative treatments do not just mask symptoms while leaving the underlying disease process to continue unchecked: these treatments have the potential to help relieve symptoms and to confer ongoing, gradual improvements by promoting healing.
Cell-based therapies help to restore a functional biologic environment and kick start repair of structures in the spine, helping to promote proper musculoskeletal function. Typically, these treatments are able to be administered in an outpatient setting with minimal disruption to everyday life and are intended to promote long-term strength and flexibility making them especially advantageous for busy younger adults who may be reluctant to pursue complete joint replacement or spinal fusion surgeries.
This article offers a brief overview of regenerative treatments, with more information available on each treatment at the links provided below.
Bone marrow concentrate
Patients undergoing some types of spine surgery may choose to have bone marrow fluid aspirated (drawn out by a needle and syringe) from the vertebra and injected into the tissues of the spine to help facilitate healing. This fluid is a rich source of the types of stem cells that can develop into bone and cartilage, making it especially useful for spinal fusion procedures using an allograft (i.e. donor bone graft material or bone cement).
Bone marrow aspirate may be centrifuged (spun very fast) to separate out the stem cells and create a bone marrow concentrate (BMC). This type of regenerative treatment is especially suited to younger patients who want to explore therapeutic options that can help preserve joint motion, strength, and stability. BMC may also help slow down degenerative processes in the spine in older patients and overcome the age-related decline in stem cell concentrations that can hinder successful bone-bridging in spinal fusion procedures.
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Platelet rich plasma (PRP)
There is growing interest in platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment as this easily accessible material offers a rich cocktail of growth factors that can promote healing in various tissues and treat joint pain. While research into PRP injections is still in its infancy, the evidence so far suggests that this treatment is safe and effective, with benefits for symptom relief in osteoarthritis.
To create platelet rich plasma (PRP), a patient has their blood drawn and this blood is then centrifuged to separate out the plasma and stem cells. The concentrated PRP contains a range of growth factors that, when injected into damaged or diseased tissue, trigger the body’s natural healing processes and can override dysfunctional biologic activity. PRP research in the laboratory, in animals, and in humans has shown significant benefits for back and neck pain, with successful tissue regeneration meaning that this relief tends to be longer-term, rather than merely palliative like many standard treatments with steroid injections, for example.
Read on for more about platelet rich plasma injections atlanta.