What Are the Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy?
If you’ve paid any attention to the news over the past couple of decades, you’ve probably heard of scientific breakthroughs involving stem cells and their potential to transform the landscape of modern medicine. However, you may not be clued up about the benefits of stem cells and how they can be used to treat a range of different diseases. In this guide, we provide a basic overview of cutting-edge stem cell science, paying particular attention to the benefits of stem cells for treating back and knee pain.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells (also known as “master cells”) are special human cells that can produce an indefinite number of “daughter cells”. These daughter cells will either function as new stem cells or as specialized cells such as muscle cells, brain cells, blood cells, or bone cells. There are four types of stem cell, including:
- Embryonic stem cells – these are present in embryos that are between three and five days old.
- Adult stem cells – these are found in human fat or bone marrow.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells – these are adult stem cells that have been altered so they operate more like embryonic stem cells.
- Perinatal stem cells – these are found in amniotic fluid and umbilical cord.
The type of stem cells we will be focusing on are adult stem cells, as these are commonly used to treat pain and do not present the kind of hotly debated ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells.
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is most often used as a pain management treatment that is fast, safe, and effective. The procedure itself is non-surgical, minimally invasive, and relatively painless, making it an increasingly popular alternative to opioid pain relievers.
The first step in the process is to draw stem cells from the patient’s body. A stem cell is then placed in a centrifuge machine, which spins quickly to concentrate the useful parts of the stem cell. For pain problems such as back and knee injuries, the concentrated cell is injected into the painful part of the body, triggering the body’s healing response and quickly producing a soothing effect without the need for drugs.
Stem cells can be concentrated in different ways depending on the requirements of the patient. Sometimes, stem cells are concentrated to produce “specialized” functions, thereby helping to repair damaged heart cells, red blood cells, or brain cells.
In many ways, stem cell treatment is still a budding field. It is a relatively new technology that scientists are hoping will offer many exciting new treatments in the future. For now, however, it plays an important role in the management of pain and improving people’s quality of life.
What are the benefits of stem cell therapy?
The benefits of stem cells are wide-ranging and include:
1. Effective pain reduction
Stem cell therapy helps to regenerate injured parts of the body and reduce inflammation, thereby offering pain relief that is long-lasting and treats the source of pain rather than simply masking it.
2. Boosts functionality and movements in different parts of the body
Stem cell therapy can help patients to benefit from an increased range of motion in joints, stronger muscles, and better all-around flexibility. This is great news for those keen to return to an active daily routine.
3. Minimal recovery times
Stem cell therapy has the potential to speed up recovery times for patients with painful injuries or those recovering from surgical procedures.
4. Non-invasive treatment that does not compromise on efficacy
Stem cell therapy is non-invasive and can be delivered with the help of ultrasound or fluoroscopy devices. As well as being much less stressful or even traumatic for patients, non-invasive therapies are less time-consuming than traditional surgeries and come with far fewer risks of complications.
5. Could help to reverse complex injuries
Sometimes, people suffer injuries so severe that parts of their body appear to be damaged beyond repair. In some of these cases, however, stem cell therapy could represent the key to recovery. This is because stem cells encourage damaged tissues to start regrowing, offering progressive pain relief and increased functionality of joints and muscles.
6. Could prevent nerve damage
Some surgical procedures can end up causing significant nerve damage, thus affecting the functionality and mobility of parts of the body. The risk of nerve damage is very small for stem cell therapies, however, as cells are injected only into the affected area.
7. No risk of rejection
In most cases, only biologic materials derived from the patient’s body are used in stem cell treatments. This reduces the risk of body rejection compared to other types of treatments for chronic pain or injury.
8. No need for general anesthetic
Although some patients may require a local anesthetic for the process of stem cell harvesting, there is no need to administer a general anesthetic at any point in the process. This means that patients do not have to spend days recovering from stem cell therapy.
9. No risk of communicable diseases
Due to the fact that stem cells originate in one’s own body, there is no risk of catching any kind of disease from stem cell therapy.
10. Plenty of promising applications beyond pain management
Although the benefits of stem cells for issues such as back and knee pain are clear, they can also be used to repair or rejuvenate damaged tissues, ligaments or nerves. What’s more, they have been used to treat a range of other medical conditions in the recent past including diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune problems, and cardiovascular illnesses. Although these treatments are still largely experimental, they may soon see wide adoption around the world.
Is stem cell treatment right for you?
Are you considering stem cell treatment to address pain caused by injury or overuse of your back or knee? Depending on your medical history and the nature of your injury, stem cell therapy could very well be a fantastic option for you. Get in touch with us today to find out more and to discuss your options.