Why Use Stem Cells for Pain?
The treatment of pain has rapidly become one of the most common uses of stem cells. The main reason is they work! They work for many different sources of pain and in many different locations. Most pain is musculo-skeletal – joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Stem cells work well for these conditions. In particular, stem cells work well with the most common form of pain in the United States, back pain.
Stem cells also do well with nerve injuries, neuropathy and even fibromyalgia. Although stem cells have many uses and applications, pain is the most common.
How Do Stem Cells From Fat Work for Pain?
There are several reasons why stem cells are so effective for pain. The first is stem cells from fat are highly anti-inflammatory. When stem cells are harvested from fat as we do at Innovations Medical, the product is scientifically referred to as Stromal Vascular Fraction or SVF. SVF contains many stem cells, frequently over 100 million in many cases. SVF also contains other things like proteins, some blood cells, and others. Most of these proteins are “growth factors”. The growth factors in SVF are HIGHLY ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. We believe that is the main reason why so many people see a nearly immediate improvement in their pain after stem cell treatment from fat or SVF. A large number of stem cells can also go to work helping to provide healing the body could not do otherwise without help. So the combination of new healing and anti-inflammation make stem cells from fat great for pain. For more information on stem cells read our blogs What are stem cells? and Understanding Adipose-Derived Stem Cells.
Do Stem Cells From Fat Work Better for Pain Than Other Stem Cells?
The answer to that question is controversial. There are two reasons we think stem cells from fat can be better for pain for many individuals. The first is the number of cells typically obtained from fat. We usually obtain 100 million or more, sometimes much more. Bone marrow can only obtain about 20,000 cells from a harvest. Umbilical cells are usually no more than 10 million per patient. The number of cells does make a difference, and fat simply provides much more. The second reason we believe fat is more effective is the growth factors present in SVF (see above). These anti-inflammatory growth factors are like a “super steroid”, turning off inflammation and pain. Bone marrow and umbilical cells do not have the associated growth factors present in SVF.
Who is a Good Candidate for Stem Cells for Pain?
Almost any pain patient not having a medical problem like active cancer or infection is a candidate for stem cells. Persons on anti-coagulants (blood thinners) may need to adjust them before stem cell therapy. Please discuss any medication changes with your doctor. Ideal candidates are those who are having ongoing pain despite medical care or who cannot tolerate the care they are receiving.
Cost of Stem Cell Treatments
The cost of the initial treatment ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. The range in cost is dependent on the complexity of delivering the cells back to you. For example, spine conditions require multiple physicians to deliver the cells back to your body and this requires an increase in cost as multiple doctors are involved in the procedure. For many people the initial treatment is all that is needed; however, for some conditions, subsequent treatments may be required and these are done at a reduced fee.