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Published

February 6, 2024

Updated

February 6, 2024

What To Know About Stem Cell Therapy for Degenerative Disc Disease

Stem cell therapy is revolutionizing the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD), offering hope to those suffering from chronic back pain. Dr. Kaliq Chang, an expert in pain management at the Atlantic Spine Center in New York City, sheds light on this innovative approach and its efficacy.

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Stem cell therapy is revolutionizing the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD), offering hope to those suffering from chronic back pain. Dr. Kaliq Chang, an expert in pain management at the Atlantic Spine Center in New York City, sheds light on this innovative approach and its efficacy.

What Are Stem Cells?

Dr. Chang explains that stem cells are versatile cells found in various tissues, including bone marrow. They play a crucial role in repairing damaged tissues by promoting regeneration and healing. Mesenchymal stem cells, derived from bone marrow, are particularly adept at orchestrating tissue repair.

Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease:

Degenerative disc disease affects the spine's intervertebral discs, leading to pain and reduced mobility. As individuals age, these discs lose their elasticity and water content, becoming prone to degeneration. Dr. Chang highlights the lumbar spine as a common site for DDD, affecting weight-bearing and movement.

The Role of Stem Cells in Treatment:

Stem cell therapy offers a promising solution for DDD by harnessing the body's natural healing abilities. Dr. Chang explains that stem cells injected into damaged discs stimulate tissue repair, including the regeneration of fibrous connective tissue. This process can alleviate pain and restore disc function.

Candidate Selection for Stem Cell Therapy:

Dr. Chang emphasizes that ideal candidates for stem cell therapy have persistent back pain unresponsive to conservative treatments. These candidates undergo thorough evaluations, including physical examinations and MRI scans, to confirm the diagnosis of DDD.

Harvesting Stem Cells:

The process of obtaining stem cells involves harvesting bone marrow from the patient's hip bone. Dr. Chang assures that this procedure, performed under local anesthesia and guided by real-time imaging, is safe and minimally invasive. The harvested bone marrow undergoes centrifugation to isolate stem cells.

Targeting the Affected Disc:

To ensure precise treatment, Dr. Chang explains the use of discography—a diagnostic procedure to identify the source of pain. By injecting fluid into the suspected disc and monitoring the patient's pain response, clinicians pinpoint the affected area for stem cell injection.

Risks and Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy:

While stem cell therapy offers significant benefits, Dr. Chang acknowledges potential risks, such as infection and bleeding. However, he reassures patients that post-procedural pain is temporary and typically subsides within weeks. Studies show that most patients experience pain relief within three months, with long-term benefits lasting up to two years.

Comparative Analysis with Other Treatments:

Dr. Chang contrasts stem cell therapy with conventional DDD treatments, such as surgery or fusion. Unlike invasive procedures, stem cell therapy harnesses the body's natural healing mechanisms without the risks associated with surgery. However, surgical intervention may be necessary for severe cases of DDD.

Addressing Long-Term Concerns:

While concerns about tumor growth exist, Dr. Chang emphasizes that adult stem cells pose minimal risk compared to embryonic stem cells. Research indicates that adult stem cells have a limited capacity for proliferation, reducing the likelihood of tumor formation. Moreover, stem cell therapy holds promise for reversing age-related spinal degeneration.

Stem cell therapy offers new hope for individuals grappling with the debilitating effects of degenerative disc disease. Dr. Chang's insights underscore the transformative potential of this innovative treatment, paving the way for a future where chronic back pain can be alleviated through the body's natural healing mechanisms.

Source: https://www.healthcentral.com/condition/degenerative-disc-disease/stem-cells-degenerative-disc-disease?fbclid=IwAR3fr0j6z3rA2fWWobzmok29T7GHzQCsSsRX7ZIPgSAT3RxweP4NX1BIivA

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