Posts Tagged ‘low back’

If my own stem cells can repair my back, why are they drugs?

April 18, 2009

It’s been known for sometime that adult stem cells (the type in your body) can repair your low back discs (at least in animals). While surgery will only weaken these discs, stem cells can repair them? A few years ago we undertook research to see if this would work in people. We first tried the type of stem cells that you can get from a bedside centrifuge machine (BMAC), didn’t work.  It likely didn’t work because the number of stem cells you can get in this type of same day procedure is just not enough.  So we then did what they did in the research and started to grow the cells in culture to bigger numbers.  After figuring out the specifics, we had it working inside of a year.  Now the FDA is claiming these stem cells in your body that can be used to fix your back are drugs?    What are your stem cells drugs?  No reason given.  Recently patients have banded together to oppose the FDA on this issue as well.

Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections + Fish Oil

January 9, 2009

fish_oil

As a doctor who treats patients with back pain and sciatica all day, lumbar epidural injections + fish oil is a great and powerful combination that I use on my own intermittent left S1 disc/nerve problem.  Why do I use this combination on my own problem?  First, epidural injections can be a great way to calm down an inflamed spinal nerve when the fire just gets too much to manage.  I consider this like putting allot of water on a really big nerve fire.  In addition, we stay away from very high dose steroids in our epidurals and have replaced the milligrams with nano-grams of steroid.  This is because this is closer to the dose range that the body uses naturally.  In addition, since we have our own stem cell culture lab, we add in platelet lysate or a VEGF rich supernatant from cultured platelets.  What’s all that mean?  These natural preparations made from the patient’s own blood platelets bring natural growth factors to bear to help the disc bulges heal themselves.  Fish oil is a natural management tool for the day to day inflamed spinal nerves (sciatica) many of us get form sitting too long or just chronic bulges.  Our friend Joe Maroon (a Neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh) conducted a study where he was able to get about 60% of his patients off of NSAID’s like Motrin by substituting a high quality fish oil loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids.  We personally use the same brand he uses, which is Nordic Naturals.  Too often fish oil is made from oxidized and cheap junk fish, while these guys do the processing right.  What to do when the epidurals and fish oil no longer work well?  We use the patient’s own stem cells injected into the disc tears that are causing the bulges (to help heal the tears and reduce the size of the disc bulges).  This method usually helps our patients avoid low back surgeries (where the disc is too often weakened by cutting off the disc bulge).  Repair is better than cutting out-at least that’s what we believe at The Centeno-Schultz Clinic.

Fix Back Disks without Surgery

December 16, 2008

The low back has disks that act as cushions between the back bones.  In order to fix back disks without surgery, the disk has to be repairedin some way.  This is because as we ageor the disks are injured, they can bulge and press on spinal nerves, causing sciatica.  Many things have been tried through the years, including spinal decompression therapy.  This newer form of traction is interesting, but in our clinic we have not seen a significant benefit over traditional traction to justify it’s high price.  Instead of this modality, consider an inversion table, which you can use at home.  Other non-surgical options haven’t existed until recently.  A new procedure injects your own adult stem cells into the low back disks to repair damage.  This can help repair the tears in the disc that caused the disk to bulge (which then presses on the exiting spinal nerves).  This new procedure can be performed through a needle, without the need for surgery or big recovery times.  A video that helps to explain how to fix back disks without surgery can be found at this link.  This video reviews how traditional low surgery removes the bulging part of the disc, which can weaken the disk and lead to more complications such as a re-herniation of the disk.  A case report with an MRI is discussed.

Back Pain Relief

December 3, 2008

Back pain relief strats with a specific diagnosis.  You can’t get back pain relief without knowing what’s causing the back pain.  Once the structure causing the back pain is known, back pain relief is the next step.  If you have a disc problem, the cutting out a piece of the disc or fusion is rarely a way to get back pain releif.  Other options for disc related back pain relief include stem cell injections.  If you have a facet joint problem, back pain relief may be gained with either the injection of stem cells into the joint or facet joint radiofrequency.  SI joint problems can also cause back pain and injecting the SI joint with anti-inflammatories or stem cells may allow for back pain relief.  Prolotherapy may also provide back pain relief.  Other options for back pain relief include: acupuncture and acupressure , epidurals , physical therapy , and massage therapy.

What Causes Back Pain?

December 3, 2008

As a physician who has seen thousands of patients with back pain, there are many causes.  These include disc problems where the disc is painful or can be damaged causing a bulge or herniation.  Back pain can also be caused by a disc placing pressure on a nerve.  If this is the case, newer stem cell procedures can repair the disc bulge.  Back pain can also be caused by irritated or damaged facet joints.  Yet another cause of back pain is the SI or sacroliliac joint.  Muscles and ligaments being overloaded or injured can also lead to significant back pain.  Back pain can also be due to occult problems like vertebral compression fractures, cancer, a balooning out of the aorta, etc…  

The most important part of a back pain work-up is identifying a specific strutcure that is causing the pain.  Just throwing narcotics or other medications at the problem is extremely counter-productive.  Too often back surgery is the conclusion when the cause of back pain goes undiagnosed.  This can cause significant complications.

Avoid Back Surgery

December 3, 2008

As a physician who has treated thousands of patients with chronic low back pain, back surgery is a two edged sword.  Back surgery can be avoided in 99% of the cases and is performed 90% of the time when it shouldn’t be.  New treatments such as transforaminal epidurals work in many patients.  Back surgery has significant complications and often produces more back surgery.  If you have a disc bulge, treating your low back and leg pain with stem cells is now one way to avoid back surgery.  This new stem cell treatment can repair a disc bulge rather than cutting on the disc, which ultimately weakens the disc.