How new advances in Regenerative Medicine at Spine Physicians Institute can relieve a variety of pain symptoms without surgery 

One of the things that makes Spine Physicians Institute unique is that it emphasizes conservative non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery. 

Many cases of back pain and neck pain relate to soft tissue injury, sprain and strains related to ligaments in the neck and back. These don’t need spine surgery.  

Other pain symptoms in the back and neck can be causes by arthritis in the vertebrae, narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) for those past age 50, or herniated discs. 

It’s important to understand that unlike other orthopedic injuries where pain is an indicator of an emergency (e.g. fracture, dislocation), with spine pain is not a good indicator of an emergency. That’s because a back spasm can be excruciating and knock you down to your knees, yet a back spasm doesn’t require surgery and can go away with rest and anti-inflammatories.

With back and neck problems, numbness and weakness in an hand or foot, or loss of control of bowel or bladder are the red flag emergency signals that need to be seen within 48 hours to prevent permanent paralysis of these nerves. (See our symptom chart )

Regenerative medicine provides new non-surgical options for back and neck pain

According to Venkat Sethuraman, MD, a Mayo Clinic trained spine surgeon at Spine Physicians Institute in Dallas, Texas, regenerative medicine holds great promise for helping more back and neck pain sufferers recover from back strain and other injuries. “The body has a natural ability to heal injured tissues over time,” Dr. Sethuraman explains. “The science of Regenerative Medicine enables the physician to harness and increase the body’s own natural healing powers.” 

The regenerative medicine specialist harvests fat from a person’s own body, spins it down with a centrifuge and then injects the substance back into the body the same day. Within this extricated fat are important living stem cells that provide a healing function to damaged tissues.

Rather than using outside drugs, or injecting outside substances, the concept of “Regenerative Medicine” is the umbrella term for advanced methods of reversing tissue damage and REGENERATING the body by using the body’s OWN HEALING SUBSTANCES.

The term “stem cell” has varied connotations. Related to orthopedics, stem cell treatment is essentially using what cells are already in your own body, only increasing the effectiveness of your own cells.

In the area of arthritic knee and hip problems, joint surgeons have found that regenerative medicine can relieve pain symptoms to delay artificial joint replacement.  The end result is that thousands of weekend athletes are back on their feet enjoying movement without pain — the same goal as surgery but without the scalpel. The person is able to buy 10 or 20 years with regenerative medicine to reach that age where they have a good chance of outliving the lifespan of that artificial joint. The result is one joint replacement surgery rather than several risky re-do surgeries at an older age.

Buyer beware some providers

One of the problems with regenerative medicine, however, is that where there is a new medical advance, there is no shortage of charlatans that move in to exploit and take advantage of those who don’t do the necessary research to find the legitimate specialists in regenerative medicine.

To that end, the FDA in 2021 put out a warning that some unscrupulous clinics are bilking healthcare consumers under the tag of “regenerative medicine” when they are not providing any competence or specialization in that profession. The FDA warns that these charlatans are injecting dead stem cells harvested from other sources and charging patients exhorbitant fees for something that simply doesn’t relieve pain or provide any healing function to the joint.

FDA approved methods for regenerative medicine

With that said, the FDA also has never approved any disease-modifying drug either to provide relief from osteoarthritis, at a time when other countries have been more advanced in the use of stem cell therapy and providing helpful regenerative medicine for citizens of those countries.

While the FDA moves cautiously, there is huge demand currently in the U.S. for stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine when it is provided correctly. FDA warning aside, that demand will continue as people try to regain movement in arthritic joints and tissues without solely depending upon surgery.

There is now a growing number of respected regenerative medicine clinics and hospitals that offer stem-cell injections to relieve joint pain in a way the FDA agrees with: By extracting the body’s own bone marrow or fat, spinning it down in a centrifuge, and injecting it back the same day while the stem cells are still alive.

While the treatments are not yet covered by insurance, and the treatment can cost a few thousand dollars, thousands of these stem-cell patients have found that it works and they are back to activity without major surgery.

As with every medical advance, health insurance companies are the last to want to pay for a new treatment, new surgical implant, or procedure. It takes several years for an insurance company to realize that the non-surgical option saves them the cost of joint replacement and all the associated rehab costs post surgery. Consequently, it’s just a matter of time before regenerative medicine procedures are covered by insurance carriers.

Consequently, the burden is on the patient to search for a reputable regenerative medicine center that can provide a non-surgical solution to their damaged knee or hip joint while they buy time to delay the need for that surgical artificial knee or hip joint replacement.

The benefits of regenerative medicine for non-surgical treatment of back and neck problems:

  • It’s a minimally invasive outpatient procedure not requiring a hospital
  • There are less complications and risks than surgery
  • There is minimal post procedural recovery discomfort and time
  • There is no use of general anesthesia
  • There is no risk of rejection since the stem cells are your own, harvested from your own body.
  • Stem cell treatment has proven to be effective for repairing sprained knees, tendon injuries, shoulder injuries, and other orthopedic ligament issues.

Regenerative medicine at Spine Physicians Institute

Spine Physicians Institute is pleased to provide patients regenerative medicine options as a non-surgical treatment alternative. Stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own body — from either their bone marrow or from their fat cells.

Adipose is another word for “fat.” Adipose-derived stem cell therapy for regenerative medicine uses the body’s own fat to treat arthritis and joint problems. Adipose Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are adult stem cells (mesenchymal stem cells) isolated from fat tissues in the abdomen using procedures like liposuction. ADSCs have the ability to turn into cells that form tendons, ligaments and articular cartilage.

The stem cells extracted from your own body are concentrated to multiply and differentiate into the injured tissue. Your orthopedist then injects the concentrated adipose-derived stem cells into the affected area to promote the healing ability of injured and degenerated bone, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Fat tissue (adipose) has become the preferred source of stem cells for multiple reasons. Adipose tissue is one of the richest sources of stem cells with 500 to 1000 times more concentration of stem cells than bone marrow. Secondly, stem cells from fat do not age and lose regenerative capability like those from bone marrow and are therefore, more effective over time. Thirdly, harvesting bone marrow through aspiration is invasive and painful. In our center, we start by using liposuction to harvest fat from the patient’s own belly region to obtain a rich source of living stem cells for more effective regenerative medicine.

Bone marrow aspirate are stem cells obtained from your own bone marrow. Bone marrow is the tissue that is found in the center of bones responsible for creating blood cells. For regenerative medicine, the bone marrow aspirate would be harvested from a person’s own hip or pelvic bone.

Bone marrow was the first body tissue used to obtain stem cells. While harvesting bone marrow from the patient’s own body eliminates the risk of rejection and increases the likelihood the body will benefit from the injection, bone marrow stem cells are not as concentrated and may be less likely to multiply and specialize compared to stem cells harvested from the patient’s own adipose tissue.

Stem cell therapy is typically performed in the office. If the physician is sourcing the stem cells from adipose (fat) tissue, the treatment will begin with liposuction to remove fat from the patient’s own belly region or buttocks. Only a small amount of tissue is harvested, so there will be no cosmetic difference to the liposuctioned area.

This collected fat tissue is processed in the office lab so the portion of the harvested tissue that contains the stem cells can be collected.

Next the physician injects the concentrated sample of stem cells into the damaged joint or tendon. The stem cells then work directly at the site of injury, or on degenerative tissue to greatly accelerate the natural healing process.

In a sense, stem cell treatment is essentially using the body’s own natural healing properties, but condensing it into a stronger dose and applying it to the body’s injured site to accelerate healing. Rather than using outside drugs, or injecting outside substances, the concept of “Regenerative Medicine” is the umbrella term for advanced methods of reversing tissue damage and REGENERATING the body by using the body’s OWN HEALING SUBSTANCES.

Related to orthopedics, mesenchymal signaling cells (MSCs) and “cellular-based therapy”  treatment is essentially using what cells are already in your own body, only increasing the effectiveness of your own cells.

Spine Physicians Institute treats back pain, neck pain, herniated discs, stenosis and other spine problems. Patients come to the spine center from across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Dr. Sethuraman is one of few Mayo Clinic fellowship-trained spine surgeons in the North Texas area. A fellowship is the highest level of medical education in the U.S.

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