Fully Recovered from Your First Big Back Injury? Likely not…

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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low back multifidus

Have you recovered from your first big back injury?  I see this story time and time again. A patient tells me that a few years ago they had a big back blow-up, usually during or after some activity. This was the first time that their low back was ever this severe and they needed to basically lay on the couch for a few days before they could do anything. It took weeks to fully recover, but then everything seemed fine. They had no low back pain until the blow-up happened that brought them into my office. So did they ever fully recover? The answer, based on the research, is likely no. Back in the 1990s, a smart group of researchers in Australia (really the home of some of the most advanced spinal research) figured out that patients after a first episode of major back pain had smaller key stabilizing muscles in their back (multifidus). These muscles are critical for protecting the spine. Now a new research study shows that even when these important low back muscles look OK on a routine MRI, they’re really not. This study used sophisticated functional MRI to look at the tissue specific properties in the back muscles of patients who had a first major episode of back pain. Even if they had no symptoms at one month, their low back multifidus muscles were different, indicating that they weren’t as active as in normal patients. The upshot? If you have an episode of severe low back pain and then your back feels fine, it’s probably never really OK until these muscles get fixed. For more information on how these muscles work, what they do, and how they can be helped, see our medical practice’s book, Orthopedics 2.0 2nd Edition.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

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.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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Shoulder

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Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

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Cervical Spine

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

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Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
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  • And more
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Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
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Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
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  • Other conditions that cause pain
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Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
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Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
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Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
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  • Other conditions that cause pain
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