An Active Grandmother’s Neck Pain Resolved Without Surgery

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It’s a confusing time right now in stem cell therapy. So many clinics are claiming to do so many things, it’s hard to know what’s real versus just a money-making scam. This morning I’ll review a grandmother who got to the place where it was difficult to play with the grandkids and how we helped her, but in the process, I’ll also educate you about what’s real and what’s a scam.

What Was Causing Debbie’s Neck Pain?

I first brought you part of Debbie’s story a while back; she had been struggling with severe pain and functional issues in her thumb. After her doctor advised surgery, Debbie was determined to find another solution, and her son, who is a chiropractor, had recommended Dr. Schultz. Dr. Schultz discovered that Debbie’s thumb issue was actually stemming from a cervical spine injury that Debbie had suffered in a prior automobile accident. The foramen (spaces in the spinal column where the nerves exit) in the part of the cervical spine that the nerves supplying the thumb pass through had narrowed, irritating the nerves in the process.

In addition, Debbie had some lax ligaments as well as some irritation of her disc and facet joints in the same area of her cervical spine. These loose ligaments meant that the spinal bones would slide on one another, further decreasing the size of the holes where the nerves exit. Again, surgeons recommended surgery to address the chronic pain in Debbie’s neck, but as she shares in the video, due to the fact that it would have permanently immobilized this area of her neck, she was completely against surgery.

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What a Surgical Fusion Would Have Done to Debbie’s Neck

A cervical fusion would have totally changed the life of this active grandmother of six. A fusion would have stopped movement in the affected area of her neck, making things like driving and playing with her grandkids more challenging. In addition, while most patients choose to undergo a spinal fusion in the hopes of eliminating their chronic pain, the truth is a fusion often leads to more pain as the segments of the spine above and below become damaged as they attempt to compensate for the work the now fused section can no longer do, a condition called adjacent segment disease that often results in additional fusions.

Debbie, having been a nurse for 40 years, knew the risks associated with spine surgery and knew it was not the right solution for her.

Dr. Schultz Performs Precisely Guided Platelet Treatments on Debbie’s Neck: No Surgery Required

During the same session as Debbie’s thumb treatment, Dr. Schultz also treated Debbie’s neck. In order to improve the tension on those lax neck ligaments thereby increasing the stability of the cervical spine, using precise ultrasound guidance, Dr. Schultz injected a high concentration of Debbie’s own platelet growth factors (platelet lysate) into each ligament. The irritated nerves were also treated using fluoroscopic guidance (real-time X-ray).

What was injected? Dr. Schultz used our fourth-generation platelet lysate. This is a growth-factor-rich cocktail that’s made by lysing the patient’s platelets. These growth factors can stimulate tissue to repair itself. Why not stem cells? For Debbie, they weren’t needed to get the results you see. Unlike other clinics that push you toward the only thing they offer, we have a broad spectrum of therapies and always seek to use the lowest cost and least invasive one that’s the most likely to help the patient.

A few weeks after the procedure, Debbie’s neck pain resolved without surgery. Her pain was gone, and the mobility in her neck had significantly improved. According to Debbie (be sure to watch her video above), “It was almost like it gave me new life.”

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How to Avoid Neck Stem Cell Scams

The work that Dr. Schultz did with Debbie required extensive training and precision. He needed to hit a tiny 1–2 mm target on X-ray at a depth of 2 inches in order to get the growth factors in the right spot. However, these days it’s easy to get taken by clinics who have little expertise in this type of therapy but are more than happy to take your money. Here are things to watch out for:

  1. A chiropractic clinic that has a nurse blindly injecting amniotic or umbilical cord tissue into your muscle trigger points. First, while these clinics claim that this is “stem cell therapy,” all amniotic and umbilical cord products on the market are regulated as nonviable (dead) tissue. Second, bizarrely, these therapies usually cost a lot more than Debbie paid. Third, a nurse practitioner who is regulated to be able to remove stitches and lance boils doesn’t have the training needed to inject your neck!
  2. A pain management office that claims that it can inject young amniotic or umbilical cord tissue into your facet joints. Again, this is dead tissue.
  3. A plastic surgeon or nonspecialist who wants to inject fat stem cells into your neck muscles.

The upshot? We’re happy we could help this grandmother play with her grandkids. However, getting her back to where she wanted to be required significant expertise. If you have neck pain and pinched nerves, stick with the experts, but avoid neck surgery. You’ll be glad you did.

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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