Did you know that an estimated up to 80% of people experience low back pain at some point in their lives?1 In fact, back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in a year; that’s two work days for every full-time worker in the United States.2
If you suffer from chronic back pain that wasn’t caused by a known injury, such as a car accident, work accident, or other means, then you more than likely have spinal osteoarthritis. This condition causes a number of symptoms, including back pain, leg pain, and numbness.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis—or OA—is the medical name of a disease that causes the joints in the body to degenerate over time.
According to clinical research, it is estimated that almost 15% of 60+ year-old adults suffer from OA across the globe.3 OA is the leading cause of disability in the senior community, and is often associated with depression, as well as sleeping disorders.4 While it commonly occurs in elderly people after a lifetime of moving around and doing repetitive motions, younger people can develop it—especially if they are:
- Genetically prone to develop it with a family history of the disease
- Have done jobs that required a lot of heavy lifting or those repetitive motions
- Are injured in a way that affects the cartilage in the joints
That’s essentially what osteoarthritis is: the cartilage in the joints breaks down, causing the bones in those areas to rub up against one another. As you can imagine, this causes quite a bit of pain. Once the arthritis advances, it can even cause pitting in the bones at the joints.
Degenerative Joint Disease In The Spine
Generally, all manifestations of osteoarthritis are painful; once the cartilage in the joints is damaged, it hurts. However, when it comes to the spine, things are a little different.
The spine consists of a number of vertebrae that are wrapped around the spinal cord. In between those vertebrae are discs that comfort and prevent them from rubbing up against one another. Without those cushioned discs, you would be in a lot of pain. This is what spinal osteoarthritis is, the beginning of those discs breaking down. In some cases, they can even squeeze that cushioning towards the spinal cord, causing pressure on the nerves in that area.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Osteoarthritis?
If you have spinal osteoarthritis, but aren’t quite sure, the very first symptom that you’ll notice is aching back pain. For most people, it occurs in the lower back, but you might notice pain up higher in the back, as well. All of this depends on the movements that you typically make throughout the day and how it affects the vertebral cushions beginning to compress and bulge.
As this happens, additional symptoms start showing. When pressure is placed on the spinal cord, it can cause a great deal of pain, and even some numbness. It can even cause numbness or additional pain in the legs, depending on which nerves are pressed on. An additional symptom is weakness in the affected leg or the part of your back where the osteoarthritis is located.
Treatments For Spinal Osteoarthritis
Historically, the treatments for degenerative joint disease have been surgical and pharmaceutical approaches. However, while pharmaceuticals have the capacity to create temporary relief from pain, they do not treat the deterioration of the joint itself—they simply mask the symptoms.
Surgery, on the other hand, is often required when this condition has reached a point where the pain can no longer be controlled or tolerated. However, surgery should only be used as a last resort; it is highly invasive, requires extensive recovery time, and is non-reversible, should you achieve less-than-optimal results.
In recent years, new regenerative medical protocols are being introduced in the US. They are non-surgical and safer treatment. If you have sought out treatment for back pain, you may be told that there isn’t enough cartilage left between the discs. However, this is rarely the case, and if there are still areas of cartilage, you may be an ideal candidate for cellular regeneration with autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells offered through regenerative medicine.
Treating Degenerative Joint Disease With Autologous Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells
A safer, non-surgical alternative for managing spinal osteoarthritis pain, regenerative medicine involves using the body’s own cells to help heal and regenerate another isolated area of the body. Recently, research has suggested that mesenchymal stem cells—or MSCs, the spindle-shaped cells sourced from bone marrow, adipose, and other tissue sources—are a great alternative in treating damage to cartilage.
Because of their shown multilineage potential, ability to generative healing responses in the body, and efficient growth cycle, these cells show great potential as therapeutic agents in regenerative medicine.5 It should be noted, these cells are quite different from embryonic astem cells, which have been surrounded by ethical and political controversy for years. MSCs are sourced from the body of the patient themselves, which addresses concerns of bodily rejection and disease transmission.
With bone marrow-derived stem cells, you don’t have to deal with the long, painful recovery process that is associated with surgery. This means you can get back to your regular routine quicker, and you can avoid the risks associated with surgery, including infection, blood clots, or injury to the nerves.
This has also been supported by recent research showing that stem cells can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.6 Results showed an injection of MSCs is “effective for reducing pain and improving knee function in patients being treated for knee osteoarthritis.” Furthermore, several clinical studies on human participants have reported positive outcomes within six months of an autologous MSC injection.7,8
Learn More About Stem Cells For Degenerative Disc Disease
Suffice it to say, the growing field of regenerative medicine and orthopedics show us promising results when it comes to managing and treating degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.
At Alternative Disc Therapy, we understand how painful living with a degenerative condition can be, and how it can limit you from taking part in the activities you used to love. We are here to help guide you towards a treatment plan that can help you get back to your day to day life. Book an appointment for a consultation today.