What Is a Peripheral Nerve?
Our nervous system is divided into central and peripheral systems. The central nervous system (CNS) is the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is the nerves that go out to the various parts of the body. The CNS has special protection in the form of protective bone (the skull and spine) and a special cellular barrier called the blood/brain barrier. The peripheral nerves do not have this special protection. Most peripheral nerves run in bundles from the brain and spinal cord out to the muscles and tissues. They provide messages to our muscles to enable movement. They also allow us to feel our body, touch, pain, and even proprioception which allows us to know where our hands and feet are located. Damage to the peripheral nerve can impair any or all of the functions – movement, sensation, or know where our arms and legs are located.
What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Nerve Injuries?
Peripheral nerves injuries can result in various combinations of loss of motion, loss of sensation, pain, and/or loss of position sense. The type and extent of the injury determine which symptoms occur. The location in the body of the symptoms is related to the location of the nerve-injured. Since the nerves telephone or internet cables through our bodies, the symptoms can be located further out in the body from where the actual injury occurred. The symptoms can vary from loss of sensation and function to only pain to many combinations in between.
What Can Stem Cells Do for Peripheral Nerve Injuries?
Stem cells can make a real difference for peripheral nerve injuries. They are particularly good at helping the pain from peripheral nerve injuries. Most patients see some improvement and many see significant improvement in pain after receiving stem cell therapy for peripheral nerve injuries. There are also occasions where sensation and motion return to an area after treatment. Unfortunately, the number of patients treated so far is too small to determine how often we see a return of sensation or motion after stem cell therapy.
Who is a Good Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy for Peripheral Nerve Injuries?
Most people who have had a peripheral nerve injury are candidates for stem cell therapy. Candidates must have overall health that will allow the minor surgery to collect the fat for obtaining the stem cells. Candidates should not have active cancer and have been cancer-free for at least two years. It is best for people taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) to be able to stop them for a few days around the procedure. In some cases, stem cell therapy can be done while patients continue their blood thinners, but this requires pre-approval. To read more about adipose-derived stem cells see our blog Understanding Adipose-Derived Stem Cells.
How Much Does Stem Cell Therapy for Peripheral Nerve Injuries Cost?
The cost for initial stem cell therapy for peripheral nerve injuries is between $7,000-10,000. Some cases require special imaging for the injections. The upper end of the price range represents these individuals. When second or more treatments are desired, the price is decreased.