Many patients come to our office asking if stem cell therapy will help their spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis refers to a condition of narrowing of the spaces in the spine where our spinal cord and spinal nerves travel. Narrowing of those spaces can be a congenital condition, but most frequently it is the result of arthritis and degeneration of the spine that happens as we age. In some cases the stenosis could be the result of a traumatic accident. Whatever the nature of the stenosis is, it can result in chronic pain affecting the back and the extremities, most commonly the legs.
So, to answer the question regarding stem cell injections and spinal stenosis: the answer is yes…and no. Stem cell injections can certainly help with the low back and leg pain, but it won’t change the spinal narrowing (stenosis), and that’s OK.
See, what happens many times (too many times) is that a patient develops chronic low back and leg pain and the patient goes to see a doctor. An MRI of the spine is ordered and it comes back showing spinal stenosis. This is an MRI finding that is very common and that, as we have discussed in previous blogs, has little correlation with the presence of pain. Many individuals with no pain have the same findings on MRI, while many symptomatic individuals do not. Our patient here will likely be referred to a surgeon, who, after reviewing the MRI, would state that the spinal stenosis is the source of the pain and that spinal surgery might be indicated. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, surgery for spinal stenosis, besides having potential serious risks, is not that effective.
A new study confirms that surgery for spinal stenosis is not more effective than non-surgical treatments (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2214174). This large study included 169 patients with symptomatic spinal stenosis and randomly assigned them to either surgery or treatment with physical therapy. The researchers found that, after 24 months, there was no significant difference in outcomes between the two groups.
If you suffer from chronic back pain, and other conservative treatments have failed, consider regenerative medicine as a safer alternative to surgery. Schedule a free consultation today to learn how regenerative treatment can help you manage your chronic back pain.
To learn more about non-surgical alternatives to back or joint surgeries go to: www.dontoperate.com .