Back & Neck Injuries and Pain
Every year, millions of people with back injuries, neck injuries, and pain undergo painful and expensive spine surgeries, or subject themselves to the risk of high dose epidural steroid injections. Frequently, surgery does not help their original pain, and they are left with other painful conditions such as decreased back motion, diminished activity levels, and chronic muscle spasms. Those who choose epidural injections typically experience minimal short term relief, but expose themselves to serious longer term side effects.
The annulus is the area of the intervertebral disc that connects each vertebra together. With age, the disc begins to degenerate and can sometimes tear with repetitive motions. A tear may also occur after a traumatic injury, common in athletes that play high-impact sports or people with very physical occupations. Depending on the location of the tear, it can be extremely painful. Most times, the patient will experience severe discomfort while in a sitting position, or while coughing and sneezing. As long as the patient isn’t experiencing any debilitating symptoms, annular tear treatment usually begins with rest, hot or cold compresses, over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, and some low-impact exercises. If the patient’s pain isn’t relieved with conservative treatment, surgery may be recommended to alleviate the lingering discomfort. Stem cell therapy, an outpatient procedure, offers a less invasive alternative to surgery and may provide the pain relief Annular Tear patients are seeking.
Arthritis of the Spine
Spinal arthritis typically affects adults over the age of 50, but can also occur at a much younger age from injury or overuse. It develops in the facet joints, located between each vertebra. As we age, the cartilage lining the joint surface can shrink and wear thin, causing bone spurs and enlargement of the joint. This often leads to the inflammation and pain of arthritis. In addition, it can lead to loss of flexibility, irritated nerves, and sciatica. Arthritic pain is often worse in the morning, but may also occur when the weather changes, after over-exertion, or even after long periods of sitting. There are many non-surgical methods of treating arthritis of the spine. Some of these include exercise to improve blood flow and increase flexibility, massage, acupuncture, and hot/cold compresses. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to treat the pain. In severe cases where bladder and bowel function is impaired, or if the nervous system is damaged, surgery will likely be recommended. Adult stem cell therapy may be an alternative treatment for chronic arthritis. The same-day procedure may provide pain relief and improve cartilage quality.
Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones, often forming in joints. They are usually smooth, but can cause wear or pain if pressed or rubbed on other bones or soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, or nerves in the body. A bone spur forms as the body tries to repair itself by building extra bone. Bone spurs due to aging are especially common in the joints of the spine and feet. In the spine, they can pinch adjacent nerves to cause numbness, tingling, and pain, as well as weakness in the area of the body supplied by the affected nerve. Some bone spurs do not cause symptoms and are usually detected by X-ray tests that are performed for other reasons. Bone spurs typically go untreated, unless they cause symptoms of pain or discomfort. If the patient is experiencing persistent pain, over-the-counter pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) may be recommended. Bone spurs that limit range of motion or press on nerves may require surgical removal. Adult stem cell therapy may provide pain relief for some patients with bone spurs.
A bulging disc is usually considered a normal part of aging and is not necessarily a sign that anything serious is happening to the spine. Intervertebral discs most likely begin to bulge as a part of both the aging process and the degeneration process. The symptoms of a bulging disc begin when the bulge puts pressure on nerve roots, directing pain or discomfort to radiate to where the affected nerve root travels. Many times, the symptoms can go unnoticed and the bulge only gets discovered after an MRI scan. A bulging disc will typically be treated with rest and a hot or cold compress. Anti-inflammatory medicines will help keep any uncomfortable inflammation or irritation under control. As an alternative, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments have been known to relieve symptoms, if only temporarily. With the regenerative properties of stem cells, some doctors have treated bulging discs with a quick, non-invasive injection of the patient’s own stem cells.
The term “stenosis” refers to the narrowing or stricture of a passage. Therefore, canal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which usually occurs during the aging process. Often times, this results in a pinched or irritated nerve root and can cause pain or discomfort. The most common cases of spinal stenosis occur in the lower back. Aside from pain, symptoms can include frequent falling, stiffness after sleep, and a numbing or tingling sensation in the legs. Changes in posture, as well as anti-inflammatory medications and rest are typical treatments of canal stenosis. If those methods don’t alleviate the symptoms, surgery may be recommended to relieve the pressure on the affected nerves. Unlike the debilitating and sometimes painful affects of surgery, stem cell therapy may be an effective alternative in treating spinal canal stenosis.
Collapsed discs are spinal discs that lose some of their water content due to deterioration of the fibrous outer walls, and as a result they lose some of their height. Most people who develop a collapsed disc have degenerative disc disease, a condition associated with advancing age. A collapsed disc does not necessarily produce symptoms, but in most cases the initial symptom is pain in the lower back that travels down to the upper thighs. Neck and arm pain can sometimes follow as time goes by, in addition to loss of control in the leg muscles. Effective treatment for a collapsed disc usually includes rest, anti-inflammatories, and exercise that strengthens the back and corrects posture. Sometimes muscle relaxants or opioids are prescribed to the patient. Physical therapy is usually recommended and occasionally surgery is required. Adult stem cell therapy is gaining popularity with some physicians in rebuilding deteriorating spinal discs.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a term used to describe the normal changes in your spinal discs as you age. It can occur throughout the spine, but generally affects the lower back and the neck, resulting in osteoarthritis, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis. These changes are more likely to occur in people who smoke or do a lot of heavy lifting. People who are significantly overweight are also candidates. Many people have no pain, while others experience severe pain that limits their activities. The pain often gets worse from bending, twisting, and reaching up. In some cases, there may be a numbness or tingling sensation in the arms or legs. To treat symptoms of degenerative disc disease, put ice or heat on the affected area and take anti-inflammatory medications. Stretching and strengthening exercises are also recommended. Surgery is a possibility, but involves removing the damaged disc and fusing the bone. As an alternative to surgery, adult stem cell injections may help repair the damaged disc.
Degenerative Joint Disease
Also known as osteoarthritis or spondylosis, degenerative joint disease is the deterioration of cartilage that supports the weight-bearing joints in your body. This condition affects about 80% of people over 60, but is known to begin from an injury that weakens the affected joint’s ligaments. Once cartilage is worn thin, it allows the constant grinding of bones, causing pain and stiffness around the joint. It can also result in weakness or numbness in the arms and legs. Through time, this condition can be very debilitating and hinder movement. Sleeping on a firm mattress and supporting the back while sitting can help prevent discomfort, as well as strengthening the back and abdominal muscles through exercise. Anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone shots, and surgery are all typical methods to immediately relieve pain caused by degenerative joint disease, but none of these methods actually heal the damage. Stem cell injections may heal and regrow the damaged tissue, with little-to-no pain or downtime.
Degenerative spine conditions involve the gradual loss of structure and function of the spine, typically caused by the normal wear and tear of the bone and soft tissues in the spine. Common in the adult working population, people who put increased strain on their necks and backs can increase the rate at which this wear and tear occurs. Symptoms of degenerative spine disease vary, but may include neck and lower back pain, spinal deformity, and limited motion. Treatment of a degenerating spine also varies, depending on the severity of the condition. In most cases, non-surgical treatment (rest, medication, and exercise) is all that is required. Surgery may be recommended in more severe cases involving herniated discs or spinal stenosis, although adult stem cell therapy is now being used in some cases to treat pain in the spine by producing new, healthy tissue to a degenerating disc.
Disc extrusion, also known as a ruptured or herniated disc, is a degenerative spine condition that can lead to nerve compression and significant neck and back pain. It is usually caused by nothing more than age, but a traumatic injury may also affect the disc sooner. Common symptoms of this condition include stiffness, pain, and unexpected muscle weakness. In some cases, it can also create a burning or numbing sensation. Initially, the most common treatments for disc extrusion include hot/cold compresses, stretching, and anti-inflammatories. Injections of a patient’s own adult stem cells into the affected area have proven to be a successful alternative for some to the more invasive and painful spinal fusion.
Disc protrusion, more commonly known as a slipped disc, is a form of spinal disc deterioration that can cause neck and back pain. Not to be confused with disc extrusion, disc protrusion involves up to 180 degrees (or half) of the circumference of the deteriorating disc. Although injury speeds up the degenerative process, this condition typically occurs with the normal aging process. A deteriorating disc puts pressure on the spine or nerves when it slips into the limited space of the spinal canal. This creates pain or stiffness in the neck and back, causing muscle weakness and occasional loss of mobility. The disc may heal itself after a few months. However, the protrusion may also create symptoms that require treatment. Initially, treatment is focused on reducing the irritation with the use of anti-inflammatory medicines and physical therapy to correct posture and maintain mobility. As time goes by, symptoms may return. Like many back conditions and injuries, adult stem cells are becoming a popular alternative method of treatment.
Each vertebra has two facet joints that connect the spinal vertebrae to each other, providing stability, mobility, and support to the spine. With age, injury, or excessive use, the cartilage in the joint begins to wear down and the joint starts to degenerate. Typically this happens in the lower spine. In some cases, facet disease causes back spasms and posture issues. General symptoms include throbbing, tenderness, or aching at the site of the degeneration. Some may also experience unusual locking of the joints while leaning backward. There are several methods of temporarily treating the pain caused by facet disease. Some of these include the use of anti-inflammatory medication and hot/cold compresses, a change in posture, and chiropractic or physical therapy. These methods may alleviate the pain and discomfort, but after time the symptoms will reappear. In extreme cases, facet disease is accompanied with disc herniation and spinal fusion may be recommended. A more natural alternative is treatment with adult stem cells from the patient’s body that are injected at the site of pain.
Facet syndrome is pain or stiffness stemming from the inflammation of the facet joints on the spine, as they degenerate with age. Sometimes, injury to the spine can cause this as well. If the facet joint becomes too swollen, it may block the openings through which the nerve roots pass, causing a pinched nerve. Other symptoms of facet syndrome include abnormal curvature of the spine, weakness or numbness of the legs and arms, and neck pain that radiates into the shoulders, arms, and head. Treatment of facet syndrome is initially anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and the use of braces. Sometimes, injection of steroids into the facet joints can help relieve pain for a long period of time. For more severe cases, a rhizotomy (or the cutting of the nerve roots) may be recommended, along with a few other surgical procedures, most commonly spinal fusion. Patients can also consider alternative treatments, including adult stem cell therapy.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (or FBSS) is a term used in patients who have new or persistent pain after spinal surgery, usually due to a buildup of scar tissue around spinal nerve roots. FBSS does not necessarily mean there was a failure during the operation. Pain in the neck, back, legs, and above or below the treated level of the spine are all signs of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. At times the pain can be a dull ache, and other times the pain can be more sharp and chronic, resulting in an inability to recuperate. Muscle spasms are also a telltale sign of FBSS. Treating Failed Back Surgery Syndrome can be difficult, beginning with a new diagnosis to try to determine what exactly is causing the pain. Stretching and anti-inflammatory medicine will help keep the pain at bay, but the symptoms will likely return. Injection of stem cells into the damaged area may cause the body to begin healing itself, without the need for more surgery.
Foraminal stenosis (or foraminal narrowing) is a common result of degenerative disc disease. When a disc bulges, it can cause a narrowing of the foramina, which are small openings in the spinal column for nerve roots to pass. Symptoms can vary, depending on the area of the spine that is affected. The most common symptoms include dull, sharp, or radiating pain; weakness or numbness in the extremities; burning sensations, like pins and needles; and difficulty walking or standing straight. Treatment typically begins with rest, light physical therapy, pain medication, and/or corticosteroid injections. One common procedure to treat foraminal stenosis is called a foraminotomy, which alleviates pressure on the nerves by removing whatever is constricting the foramen. This can be painful and leave the patient with a period of debilitation. For some patients, a less-invasive solution is to treat the affected area using adult stem cells.
Herniated Disc (HNP)
Herniated nucleus pulposus (or herniated disc) is a condition in which the gelatinous central portion of an intervertebral disk is forced through a weakened part of the disk, resulting in back pain and nerve root irritation. The main cause of this is normal wear and tear of aging, but can also happen after an injury to the spine. In addition to back pain, HNP can cause a pain or numbness in the leg (sciatica). Anti-inflammatory medication may temporarily help the symptoms, along with rest, exercise, and hot/cold compression. Spinal surgery is offered for severe cases, although stem cell therapy may be a better, less painful method of treatment.
A pinched nerve occurs when there is compression on a nerve as a result of repetitive motions or the body (or extremities) being held in one place for a long period of time. This condition commonly develops from a herniated disc. Inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. It may also cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder and arm, or from the back into the leg and foot. In many cases, the only treatment needed is rest and avoiding certain activities that may irritate the pinched nerve. Anti-inflammatory medication will help keep swelling down to a minimum and relieve the compression. Physical therapy will help stretch and strengthen the muscles. Surgery may be recommended in more severe cases if symptoms persist. Non-invasive stem cell therapy is an alternative to surgery, facilitating the body’s capacity to heal itself and relieve pain.