Way back when, in 2005/6, when I injected the first patient in the world with stem cells into a damaged low back disc, it was “way out there.” In fact, we had to be under the supervision of an Institutional Review Board just to get it done. How times have changed in 13 short years. Now you can find any number of clinics all advertising that they can perform a lower back stem cell injection. However, from what we see, most of that is hype without much reality. So today I’ll try to separate the hype from reality, help you find a real lower back stem cell injection technology that’s likely to help, and show you one of the recent results from one of our patients.
Hype from Reality
Regrettably, there are more stem cell scams out there than legit lower back stem cell injection procedures. Why? We’ve seen chiropractors enter into the fray as well as physicians who don’t have the skill needed to inject the spine using imaging guidance. Hence, many of these procedures never get anywhere close the to disc. To learn more about how to separate hype from a real lower back stem cell injection, please watch my short video below:
Understanding Where to Inject What Is Critical
Regrettably, most of the physicians offering stem cell injection procedures for low back pain out there just learned what they know from a quick weekend course. Obviously, this can’t replace 12–13 years of experience observing which patients respond and which patients are more likely to fail these procedures. In fact, what’s more interesting is that, at the end of the day, not only do you have to know how to precisely inject various structures in the spine using imaging guidance, but you also need to understand what to inject. It’s this last part where most clinics fail.
For example, only certain types of injured low back discs are even a good fit for stem cell injections. Many patients with low back pain would be much better off being injected with less expensive and less invasive platelet-based procedures. To understand which damaged disc types respond best to which technology, watch my short video below:
Our Newest Patient Result
The before and after MRIs above are from a patient who had a large disc bulge at L4–L5, likely sustained in a bending accident. The patient actually tried platelet-based procedures injected epidurally and into his facet joints, and this did help his low back pain, but his leg symptoms continued. Hence, he was taken down to our licensed site in Grand Cayman to have specially culture-expanded stem cells from his bone marrow precisely injected into the disc bulge. The images on the left show a large disc bulge at L4–L5 which resolved seven months after the procedure. His leg symptoms also resolved.
Now please note that this type of lower back stem cell injection technology that can help disc bulges pressing on nerves without surgery isn’t available in the U.S. The specialized cultured procedure to grow the cells to higher numbers isn’t permitted. So this patient needed to be treated outside of the U.S. at our licensed Grand Cayman site.
The upshot? At the end of the day, we’ve been injecting discs with stem cells longer than anyone else on earth. Hence, Regenexx providers have the widest array of tools available to use to help low back pain patients. More importantly, we’ve learned a lot through the years about what works where and what’s likely a waste of the patient’s time and money!