At our Cincinnati health and wellness center, our Cincinnati patients ask us lots of questions about stem cells. That’s understandable as this regenerative approach to medicine is still in its early stages of research and development. Nevertheless, we’ve seen lasting benefits from the treatment in our patients every day. We thought we’d take some time to answer 8 of the most common questions we get regarding stem cells and the benefits of treatment.
1. What is a Stem Cell & How are They Harvested?
Stem cells are cells that provide the building blocks for healing. They are essentially blank canvases that can transform into any type of cell in the human body and be used to regenerate all sorts of tissues. They provide a valuable blueprint for which the body can use to heal itself.
There are 3 types of stem cells: Embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells, i.e. genetically reprogrammed stem cells harvested in a lab.
Embryonic stem cells are taken from either the umbilical cord or birth placenta. While earlier approaches in stem cell science typically harvested these stem cells from fetuses, that is no longer the case due to ethical concerns. Today, embryonic stem cells are harvested from umbilical cord and placenta tissue of healthy cesarean section birth children whose mother has agreed to donate the tissue.
Adult stem cells are harvested from your own tissues, usually fat or bone marrow.
Induced pluripotent stem cells are genetically programmed in a lab. Certain genetic components are triggered, prompting different cells to become pluripotent stem cells. These work similarly to embryonic stem cells.
2. How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
Stem cells are injected into damaged areas of the body — say the neck to alleviate neck pain, or the knee to alleviate knee pain. The stem cells then are attracted to damaged tissue and work to regenerate the entire area.
3. Why are Stem Cells Important?
There are many uses of stem cells, and scientists are only beginning to discover their potential. As the building blocks of the body, stem cells can provide valuable insights into a range of diseases. Scientists can use stem cells to model the progression of human disease in a lab in order to understand how those diseases affect the body and possible cures.
4. Where Does Stem Cell Research Currently Stand?
Stem cell treatments are an emerging science. It is still relatively experimental, but numerous patients can attest to the benefits they’ve seen regarding back pain, neck pain, muscle soreness, etc. New research from the American Physiological Society has also found stem cells may help repair the organs and prepare them to save lives.
5. What are the Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy Regarding Pain?
Stem cells are being studied as remedies for a variety of chronic pain conditions, including knees, back, hips, and elbows. They work to both reduce the inflammation that causes the pain, as well as heal painful regenerative conditions such as arthritis. Unlike prescription medication, stem cells have the potential to offer more sustained relief without the risk of addiction or the need for pills.
6. How Does Stem Cell Injections Help Knees?
Stem cells can be injected into painful areas of the knees. This can help reduce inflammation as well as kick start healing for damaged tissue such as:
- Repair worn cartilage
- ACL or MCL tear
- Chronic knee pain
Stem cells can be an alternative to surgery through a less invasive approach that can carry longer term benefits.
7. How Do Stem Cells Treat Back Pain?
Stem cells may be beneficial at relieving back pain, particularly back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Results so far have been positive, with a significant number of people in experimental treatments showing encouraging results.
8. Do Stem Cells Treat MS?
There is no approved stem cell treatment for MS, but researchers anticipate a breakthrough to happen in the coming decades.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which heads a number of MS research efforts, has stated:
“At present, there are no approved stem cell therapies for MS. Larger, longer-term, controlled studies are needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of using stem cells to treat MS. When the results of these and subsequent clinical trials are available, it should be possible to determine what the optimal cells, delivery methods, safety and actual effectiveness of these current experimental therapies might be for different people with MS.”
If you think you could benefit from stem cell treatment or would like to learn more, contact your Cincinnati doctor. Dr. Blatman is a health and wellness doctor that uses stem cell injections to address a variety of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, and arthritis. Call us for a free consultation.