Brand new medical research is being conducted using stem cells to treat low-back pain. Researchers are testing the safety and efficacy of harvesting and re-injecting a patient’s own bone marrow, which is rich in stem cells, into damaged spinal discs.
In a small study of 24 low-back pain patients, the procedure appeared to be safe, and none of the patients reported worsening pain after the injection.
However, the researchers involved in the study and outside experts agree that more research is needed. They still don’t know if the stem cell injections really help patients at all.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph Meyer headed the research team, and he acknowledged that natural, more conservative, approaches can often help patients with persistent low-back pain.
He went on to say that the option of spinal fusion is surgery is “…a big, big step with questionable effectiveness. Often, you’re back in the same boat a year later.”
The study was a way to look at alternatives to surgery. While there may be a glimmer of hope in the results, it is important to note the small sample size and the lack of a control group to use for comparison. A back pain expert not involved in the study, Dr. Richard Deyo, said, “Even patients who have chronic pain, their symptoms tend to wax and wane and fluctuate… We have a long history of treatments that look promising when they start and turn out to be more effective than placebo interventions… It’s really too early to know if this is going to be effective or safe.”
The study’s researchers agreed. They simply hope that their preliminary work will promote a future controlled study.
For a trusted and natural approach to low-back pain treatment, patients should turn to a chiropractor before considering surgery or other extreme procedures. Countless studies have shown that chiropractic treatment is effective and safe and can relieve even chronic pain in the low-back.
Goodman B. Stem cells to relieve low back pain? WebMD News: April 12, 2013.
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