Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: November 2, 2015
The movie Back To The Future recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and fans came out in droves to honor the classic movie. Although scientists have yet to create a hoverboard similar to the one Marty McFly rode, we have made some huge advancements when it comes to medical technology. We’ve gotten better at diagnosing and treating complex spine problems, but we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to healing back injuries. Today, we take a look at how we’ll handle back pain in the future.
Pain injections? Where We’re Going, We Won’t Need Pain Injections
Although that subheading may not necessarily be true, it appears that the future of back pain treatment may revolve around stem cells, not pain injections. Stem cells are being studied for their potential ability to develop into many different types of cells. Although still in an early stage, medical experts are currently attempting to use stem cells to regrow damaged tissues and organs, and to treat some neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Stem cells are also being examined as a potential solution to alleviating back pain. Scientists believe stems cells may play a role in treating:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Intervertebral disc degeneration
- Spinal osteoarthritis
Additionally, researchers are examining stem cells’ role in improving spinal fusion operations.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the field of orthopedics accounts for more than 65% of the international marketing for stem cells and tissue engineering. The group is particularly interested in mesenchymal stem cells, which are adult stem cells harvested from bone marrow or body fat that can develop into new cartilage or bone cells.
Whoa, This Is Heavy
As we mentioned above, the field of stem cell research is still very young, and it’s not without complications, but that hasn’t stopped high-profile from pursuing it as a way to treat their pain. Star tennis player Rafael Nadal received stem cell treatment to put an end to his problematic back pain. Nadal’s operation was designed to help repair damaged cartilage. Stem cells were extracted from Nadal and then cultivated in a lab to produce adequate quantities.
“When we have them we will put them in the point of pain,” said Nadal’s doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, with the goal of “regenerating cartilage, in the midterm, and producing an anti-inflammatory effect.”
The injection sure seemed to help, as Nadal ended up winning three tournaments in 2015.
For more information about stem cells for back pain, check out this article by WedMD