Stem cell treatment for pain
Stem cell treatment for pain
Chronic pain can be defined as the presence of any pain (which can make it difficult to perform the daily activities or not) which lasts for more than 12 weeks. The experts say that this can be the main reason why this unspecific symptom has been included among the most common reasons for consultation in the last years.
In fact, theÂ NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) statistics show that at least 23,5 million American adults suffer from daily pain due to different conditions and diseases.Â
Likewise, it is estimated that around 1.5 billion people around the world experience this symptom. In this sense, as chronic pain is a public health problem, the experts are constantly looking for new and more effective therapies for relieving it, but, for some patients, the therapies currently available are not enough.
In fact, many people who experience chronic pain resort to narcotics to relieve the pain even when this kind of medicines have a lot of potential side effects and, some of them, even halve the risk of developing addictions.
This fact can help to understand why, in the last years, the cell-based therapy has been widely studied to be used as the treatment of neuropathies, joint diseases and chronic pain.Â Among the cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine currently available, one of the most used and studied until now is the stem cell treatment.
How does Stem Cell Treatment work?
In general terms, the stem cell treatment triggers the body's innate ability to heal its own cells and tissues.Â
This means that it is an excellent option to take what the body already has to help their own tissues to repair the different injuries that may be present, in consequence, relieving the symptoms these injuries cause (like pain).
It is very important to know that one of the most innovative things about this treatment is the fact that it helps to naturally replace the damaged cells of the affected area, and it provides a lot of trophic factors to the surrounding cells in the other tissues, so it acts as a long-lasting or definite treatment.
In addition, this mechanism of action helps to repair many injuries, in different tissues, simultaneously.Â
For example, in a patient with osteoarthritis predominant in the knee and degeneration of patellar cartilages, the stem cell treatment can help to regenerate the damaged cells in both tissues.
What conditions can be treated with Stem Cell Therapy?
The stem cell treatment for pain has been successfully used in the last decades for treating painful conditions in the tendons (tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, foot pain), muscles and ligaments (torn rotator cuffs), bone and cartilage defects, arthritis, osteoarthritis, chronic neck/back pain, meniscal tears and even nerve damage.
Likewise, stem cells treatment can also be used to treat more complicated diseases, including autoimmune diseases (such as Type I Diabetes Mellitus), muscular dystrophies, vision and hearing problems, severe burns, among others.
Finally, as stem cell treatment for pain is relatively new.Â Researchers are constantly performing clinical trials involving these cells to prove the effectiveness of this treatment in different conditions and even to find new uses.
For example, a meta-analysis called "Stem Cell Therapy for Chronic Pain Management: Review of Uses, Advances, and Adverse Effects" concluded that there are many researches that show that stem cell treatment can help to improve the pain, proved by various indices that measure the joint pain and dysfunction.
However, some of these studies only show preliminary outcomes and they were not made under the best conditions, so this kind of treatment needs to be studied even more.
Where can the Stem Cells be found?
There are different sources of stem cells, one of them, and maybe the best known, is the bone marrow. However, they can also be obtained from adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, and umbilical cord blood.
According to the site where they are obtained, they can be classified into different types, like embryonic stem cells, tissue-specific stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.Â
The mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have 2 important properties, the capacity to self-renew and the capacity to differentiate into many specialized cells lineages.Â It is very important to say that this explains why these types of stem cells are able to repair cells in the muscle, bone, ligaments and even other tissues.
How is Stem Cell Treatment performed?
Stem cell treatment for pain is usually performed through injections with stem cells, which are previously processed in a laboratory, in the affected area.Â
It takes about 15 minutes to be completed and it is an outpatient procedure that can be performed in the doctor's office.
The doctor can use local anaesthetics in the area that will be injected to avoid discomfort, but general anesthesia is not needed.
Which are the benefits of Stem Cells treatment for Pain?
One of the most important benefits of stem cell treatment for pain is the fact that patients usually refer a pain relief in the 24 to 48 hours after receiving the stem cells injection.Â In other terms, this treatment is very quick.
Most patients also say that in less than a month they experienced an important relief of pain and a complete restoration of the joint and its ligaments, tendons and cartilages.Â It also offers the benefit that by repairing the source of the pain, the treatment helps to avoid a relapse into the symptoms, contrary to most analgesics.
Likewise, pain relief obtained with this treatment is long-lasting (many years).Â It is also important to highlight that stem cell treatment for pain does not need a long recovery time after the procedure and do not have the risk of developing severe side effects, as traditional treatments with surgery (especially total joint replacements).
Finally, this kind of treatment is powerful and non-invasive, so it is especially recommended for people who are not good candidates for invasive procedures (such as reconstructive surgery), but who do not feel any relief of the pain with the most powerful analgesics.