New research shows that stem cell therapy could be useful in relieving upper and lower back pain. Golfer Jack Nicklaus, who is the winner of 18 championships, suffered severe back pain for several decades and claims that experimental stem cell surgery has been more effective at alleviating his pain than any other treatment he has tried in the past.

This treatment was developed in Munich, Germany and includes liposuction to remove fat from the abdomen. Blood vessels from this fat consist of stem cells used to lower the relevant back pain. The stem cells are isolated and then injected into either side of the spine in the lower back and the neck.

This is still a therapy in its early stages and is not being recommended to everyone with severe back pain.

“This is not an approved therapy,” stated Dr. Jaime Imitola, director of the Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Multidisciplinary Clinic and Translational Research Program in the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “These types of unapproved therapies are happening more and more often, but the difference here is that Jack Nicklaus is a public figure whose opinion will sway a lot of people into doing things like this.”

Essentially, the stem cell procedure has not been peer-reviewed or gone through a large number of cases successfully. As such, there are still many uncertainties about using stem cell therapy to alleviate severe back pain.

There are multiple reasons for lower back pain including facet joint syndrome where joints that help move the spine degrade, inflammation in the spine, or even cancerous tumors. Every patient will need to work with their physician to get the best diagnosis and learn what type of treatment is right for him or her, especially since the source of back pain can be different for each patient.

Essentially, while stem cell therapy is a unique, innovative, and interesting form of treatment, there are many different strategies to help treat back pain and stem cell surgery should not be the first approach used.

In the United States, this type of therapy is going to go under clinical trials in the coming years and will hopefully become approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This experimental stem cell therapy is gaining more attention in the scientific field. If clinical trials are found to be successful and the FDA approval is gained, then many more people with lower back pain should be able to receive this type of treatment.

Findings from One Small Study Show Improvements in Spinal Pain

Researchers looked at how stem cell therapies affected discogenic low back pain in which intervertebral discs are deteriorating and causing pain. This type of chronic low back pain represents as much as 26% to 42% of cases.

Cell-based therapies in animal models and human clinical trials have shown to improve the scores of low back pain, the retention of hydration, and the disc height. Percutaneously delivered multipotent mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy has been shown to ameliorate disc pain, slow down catabolic metabolism, and even restore disc tissue.

One small study of 24 patients were injected with their own bone marrow aspirate cellular concentrate, which is known to repair and heal different types of tissues. These patients had suffered from lower back pain for anywhere from three months to 12 years. Imaging tests illustrated that these patients had damaged discs in their spine. Other options for treating this problem could be exercise and weight loss as well as a more invasive spinal fusion surgery.

Out of the 24 patients who obtained the bone marrow injections, 12 went on to receive other treatments over the next two years, which made it more difficult to tell which procedure worked best to alleviate their pain. The 12 patients who did not go on to receive other therapies, 10 patients stated that their pain alleviated in two to four months after the stem cell therapy. After one year, eight patients were still reporting serious pain relief while, after two years, only five patients stated their back pain was improved.

Essentially, stem cell therapy is still an experimental type of treatment for low back pain and other forms of therapy should first be obtained before moving forward with more invasive treatments.

If you live throughout the Birmingham, Alabama area and are suffering from back or neck pain, you may want to speak with our chiropractor who performs structural corrections, whiplash, scoliosis treatment, and other therapies. Before undergoing surgeries or stem cell therapies, chiropractic treatment may be right for you. Ready to get started? Call us now at 205-352-9141.

Scroll to Top