The bones of the spine called vertebrae are separated by shock-absorbing discs that act as a cushion. These discs have a strong cartilaginous outer portion and a gel-like inner core. When these discs begin to break down from either age or injury, they can result in disc bulging or what is also known as disc herniation. The discs can also tear, decrease in height or dry out. These changes in the discs can cause pain and pressure on nearby nerves ( radiculopathy). They can also cause degeneration of nearby facet joints and narrowing of the canal (spinal stenosis).
Degenerative disc disease often occurs as part of the aging process. By age 40, it is estimated that 40 percent of the population will have some degree of degenerative disc disease and by age 80, that percentage doubles.
Symptoms from degenerative disc include neck pain, back pain, muscle spasms or radiating pain to the arms or legs. Pain is typically worse with bending forward or prolonged sitting.
The current standard treatment for degenerative or herniated discs includes physical therapy, medications, injection therapy, and surgery. These aim to provide symptomatic relief of the pain but most do not improve the pathology or reverse the degenerative process.
Treatment with Bone marrow-derived cells has introduced a unique approach to alleviate pain and improve function by restoring and repairing tissue injury.
What is Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC)?
The body’s bone marrow possesses unique properties that help the body heal itself naturally. It contains important therapeutic cells, growth factors and proteins that stimulate the body’s natural ability to improve circulation, decrease inflammation and heal injured tissues.
It also contains adult stem cells called Mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells have the special ability to renew themselves and differentiate into bone, tendon, cartilage and muscle cells. These make them an ideal therapy for treating orthopedic injuries such as tendon tears, worn cartilage, and degenerated disc disease.
Bone marrow-derived cells have been shown to stimulate disc cell proliferation, increase disc support tissue, increase disc hydration, decrease inflammation, and support tissue healing.
How Effective is BMAC?
A study published by International Orthopedics reported the results of 26 patients suffering from degenerative disc disease and were candidates for major surgery such as spinal fusion or total disc replacement who underwent BMAC therapy to their discs. Three years later, 73% of these patients showed improvement in pain, 70% showed improvement in function, and 75% avoided surgery.
A systematic review of seven clinical trials with a total of 97 patients and up to 72 months follow-up concluded that treatment with Bone Marrow-derived cells intradiscally showed significant improvement in pain and function with low re-injection or complication rates.
BMAC therapy is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that does not require hospitalization or lengthy rehabilitation. Patients are generally able to begin physical therapy and gradual resumption of their daily activities within a week.
For patients who suffer from chronic low back pain from degenerative disc disease and failed standard conservative therapy, BMAC therapy performed by an experienced regenerative medicine specialist can provide an innovative, non-surgical treatment solution. Schedule a consultation with our renowned regenerative medicine physicians to see if you are a candidate for these therapies before considering spinal surgery.
Drs. Christopher J. Rogers and Mary A. Ambach of San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group together have successfully treated hundreds of patients with BMAC and other cell-based treatments for more than three decades. They have published authors and stem cell researchers. Their FDA-compliant facility in Carlsbad contains the most advanced Regenerative Medicine technology in San Diego and offers same-day treatments with the highest level of safety and efficacy.