Can a Same Day Stem Cell Procedure Reduce Disc Bulge Size?

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We’ve been impressed with using stem cell injections in the right kind of discs. While most patients believe that there is only one type of disc issue, there seems to be no end to the number of physicians willing to inject stem cells into discs. However, we’ve been more selective. Why? Eleven years of experience injecting stem cells into low-back discs have taught us that this is a great tool when it’s applied to the right kind of discs and a waste of money when it’s applied to the wrong type. This morning I’d like to review a patient of Dr. Pitts, who has the right type of disc, and go over some important changes in the problem disc.

What Is the Right Kind of Disc for Stem Cell Injections, and When Is It a Waste of Money?

 A while back I created a video that helps patients understand the four major types of low-back discs and which will respond to stem cells. The basic idea is that for a disc to be a good candidate for stem cell injections, it has to have good disc height and either a painful tear or a bulge pressing on a nerve. However, if the disc has poor disc height (is collapsed or bone on bone) or a herniation, then there are better technologies to help the problem.

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An Example of a Good Disc Stem Cell Candidate

Tracey is an active middle-aged woman with a disc tear and bulge that had persisted for two years. She had tried and failed physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. Tracy got only temporary relief from low-back epidural steroid injections, an SI joint injection, and a radiofrequency ablation of her facet joints. Dr. Pitts initially tried using our 4th-generation platelet lysate procedure by injecting this into the ligaments, joints, and epidural, but she didn’t note that much relief. Hence, he became more convinced that her remaining pain was related to the L5–S1 disc. So in March of this past year, he performed a same-day stem cell procedure, precisely injecting her cells into the L5–S1 disc using fluoroscopic guidance.

Her MRIs are above, taken before the procedure (on the left) and then about seven months after (on the right). Notice the disc bulge in the yellow-dashed line that’s there before and then not there or smaller after the procedure. Also, note that this was a long-standing bulge that wasn’t resolving on its own, so it’s likely that these changes were caused by the injection. She also noted about 75–80% resolution of her low-back and other symptoms.

The upshot? Low-back discs, when they’re carefully selected, can respond well to expert same-day stem cell treatment. However, we see all too often that treatment is offered to any patient with a disc issue and the money to pay for the treatment. Tracey is an excellent example of a patient who needed stem cells injected into her disc to recover!

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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11 thoughts on “Can a Same Day Stem Cell Procedure Reduce Disc Bulge Size?

  1. Wirt T. Maxey

    “However, if the disc has poor disc height (is collapsed or bone on bone) or has a herniation, then there are better technologies to help the problem.”

    What are the “better technologies” ?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Wirt,

      Injecting the disc itself is only appropriate in a specific set of circumstances. As in all of Regenerative medicine, using the right type of treatment for the problem is key. For Herniations it’s usually best to stick with a technology that doesn’t inject the disc, but instead instills isolated growth factors around the irritated nerve. This is called platelet lysate, administered in an epidural injection around the nerves. The focus is to ramp up your body’s own natural repair mechanisms, which can get rid of the herniated disc. Degenerated Discs don’t respond to any type of stem cell injection into the disc. However, in our experience it can respond to a treatment protocol focused on platelet and/or stem cell technology deployed to treat sloppy disc movement due to lax ligaments and arthritic facet joints. Please see: https://regenexx.com/how-to-read-a-low-back-mri-report/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/epidural-steroid-injections/

  2. stef

    Wow ! I have been reading dc centeno’s blog for a while and i don’t recall any references that an epidural could help regenerate a herniated disc. That is a bold statement. Having had a few of those myself, i always wonder if the patelet lysate stick around the nerve, why not inject it directly at the disc ? That should help. Beside there is plenty in the syringe. But how the patelet lysate flotting around the nerve affect the disc to the point it would help regenerate, outside the contact point between the two, that is worth a blog…

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Stef,

      The procedure highlighted here is a stem cell procedure in which the stem cells are injected directly into a bulging disc with a tear, rather than a platelet lysate procedure in which we treat the nerves, facet joints, ligaments or epidural space. .

  3. Pam

    I appreciate the information and the integrity of your company. Best to the Regenexx crew!

  4. Eashan

    Which one is better? Platelet Lysate (Regenexx-DDD) or Stem Cell Treatment?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Eashan,
      It depends on specifically what’s being treated.

  5. Rg

    For a 3mm bulging disk, what is better? PRP or stem cell? As an athlete I was looking for a full recovery

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Most of these respond very well to PRP.

  6. Eashan

    For a disk bulge causing mild left foraminal narrowing in lumbar spine, which is better? Platelet Lysate or Stem Cells?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Usually platelet lysate

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