Making Progress on Back Pain: No Stem Cells Required

by Chris Centeno, MD /

When I first saw Ross, in July of last year in Grand Cayman, he was a work in progress. He just sent me the video above, despite a big setback due to a big fall from a big horse. Let me explain.

Disc "Stem Cell" Therapy

First, before we get into Ross's history, he was seen by a physician who took blood and told him that he was able to isolate hundreds of millions of stem cells. This was fiction, in that the blood contains few if any stem cells. He then injected a concoction of many different things into his discs. The good news was that Ross did report some relief, but he still had serious issues and reached out to us. After communicating with him, we decided to bring him to Grand Cayman, where he could actually have hundreds of millions of real stem cells grown in the lab and then later injected into his discs.

Where Ross Started

In my notes from July in Grand Cayman, this is what I wrote: "He can do more than he has been able to do, but still has issues. For instance he tells me it is difficult for him to stand for more than five minutes. It is difficult for him to walk for any length of time. The morning is the worst and he has difficulty straightening up after he sits for any length of time. If he sits in the wrong chair things are worst, but if he sits in the right chair either very soft chair one with lumbar support things are better." 

So Ross was better eight months after having his discs injected with blood and a bunch of other stuff, but he still had issues. 

What Did We Do?

Ross was in Cayman to get his bone marrow stem cells culture expanded and grown to much larger numbers, but I wanted to treat him before we had those cells. Hence, we used our third-generation high-dose platelet-rich plasma and platelet lysate and injected that using our DDD procedure shown below:

A Huge Setback

Ross was doing better but had a run-in with a horse. Basically, he was thrown to the ground and fractured his L1 vertebra. In addition, the thoracodorsal fascia (TDF) at L4–L5 was torn off the spinous process. This latter injury was found on an ultrasound exam as that part of the spine can be seen with much finer detail using that technology. Hence, in August of this year, we again used the DDD protocol and also injected around the nerves at the fracture level. In addition, I injected the damage at the TDF. 

How Is Ross Doing Now?

While the video says quite a bit, he also sent me this:

"I've logged almost every day of the last 500 days on 6 or 7 metrics. Wake up pain, max pain / duration, min pain / duration, major daily activities, travel, meds, notes. In the last two weeks, my wake up pain is 2 and 3… Down from 4 – 5 since this summer. Max pain down to 2 – 3, from 3 – 5.. Min pain is 0 – 2, from 3 – 4. No meds on most days.

I almost always have some pain, but qualitatively, it's downshifted from 'managing around it' to 'mildly annoying'.

I can make the pain spike to 5 or 6 very quickly. Just stand up in static "cocktail party" position for more than 10 minutes. At 15 Im aching. At 25 Im bending over trying to relieve the pain. At 45 minutes I'm leaving.

Similarly, dinner restaurants. I've got 1 hour in me. Particularly with seats that have an open back or are too
upgright. I travel with my therma-rest blowup lumbar balloon EVERYWHERE.

I feel "durable". I don't feel strong. I'm a million miles away from bullet proof. I can break easily, with the wrong kind of impact.

I've been training very consistently and intently, with a very specific recovery protocol that Doug Kelsey developed for me. For instance, if I'd sent you a video three weeks ago, you wouldn't have seen a single exercise where I was standing up.. forget about dynamic movement. I'll say that I believe the magic here has been biologics+proper training."

So Ross is getting better, but we have work to do down here in Grand Cayman in March. In particular, his L3–L4 disc got worse after the blood "stem cell" treatment and subsequent fall, and my goal is to inject real stem cells into that bulging disc annulus to try to reduce its size. I think this is causing most of his continued issues with standing.

The upshot? I'm excited to see Ross jumping around and feeling better. He's had a rough go with his back, and, hopefully, we can get him further down the road to recovery. In the meantime, we haven't yet injected his disc or used stem cells, but he's feeling better!

Category: Spine

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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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