Amazingly, half of all working Americans admit to having back pain each year. This has resulted in back pain being one of the leading reasons for lost work. This may also lead to an inability to participate in recreational activities, play with kids or grandkids, or simply complete one’s activities of daily living. Notthe best way to live!
Degenerative Disc Disease
Over the past few decades, conventional nonoperative treatments for back and neck pain have not dramatically changed. Cortisone injections, also known as steroids, have been utilized for over 50 years. Doctors place them either into spinal facet joints of the back and neck, epidural area or even in soft tissue for pain relief.
Amazingly, steroid injections are still considered as a standard of care by insurance companies for the conservative treatment of back/neck pain. This despite that studies over and over again show the pain relief occurs but only for a temporary period of time (usually 2-3 weeks or so). Steroids themselves may be harmful to cartilage tissue, and potentially accelerate additional arthritis over time.
Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment may work very well for back and neck pain in the majority of patients. This may help patients control their pain well, but it doesn’t typically repair or regenerate damaged tissue. It may however, strengthen up the muscles surrounding the spine and take pressure off the painful area(s).
Bracing for neck or back pain may provide significant relief. This option is temporary and the relief occurs from the immobility of the area. However, studies have shown that bracing chronically may lead to muscle disuse atrophy and additional issues. So it’s really only a short term solution.
Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure for back and neck pain that involves heating up tiny nerve endings that supply sensation to painful spinal joints. While it has been a great technology for relieving back and neck pain for an extended period of time, the procedure doesn’t actually repair or regenerate damaged tissue.
In most circumstances for spine surgery, the decision to proceed is made on an elective basis. Up to 40% of those surgeries fail within two years, and often times patients are still on pain medication as all of the pain is not relieved.
Narcotics for chronic neck or back pain has been a disaster most of the time in America, as all too often patients end up with tolerance and possibly addiction. Way too many patients have ended up in an addiction rehab facility or experiencing an overdose as a complication of narcotics.
There is a new option for back and neck pain treatment that is changing the paradigm for how long term relief is obtained. This includes Stem Cell Recruitment TherapyTM with an amniotic fluid injection that is covered by insurance carriers including Medicare, Tricare and Commercial payers.
The amniotic fluid allograft contains growth factors, cytokines and hyaluronic acid which are vital to relieving pain in arthritic joints of the back or neck. In addition, the amniotic fluid harnesses the body’s ability to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. With all other available treatments simply “masking” one’s pain, this truly represents a change in the paradigm for medical treatments of back and neck pain.