Stem Cell Treatment And The Opioid Epidemic

People who experience chronic lower back pain could soon forget their problems if a recently invented stem cell treatment method works as expected. The injection is poised to become a crucial tool in managing the opioid epidemic that currently kills thousands of people in the United States.

Today, overdoses from prescription opioids account for over 40,000 deaths in the US. Most of these deaths tend to occur as a result of individuals becoming addicted to the prescription opioids such as methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Patients usually turn to these drugs as a way of relieving chronic back pain.

Opioid Addiction

Cases of opioid addiction in the US have quadrupled since 2000, and most deaths occur as result of patients becoming addicted to the opiate painkillers prescribed by licensed medical doctors. Chronic lower back pain is a common health issue that affects over 28 million in the United States.

However, stem cell injection therapy is set to change everything. The stem cells will be injected into the damaged tissues between the vertebrae of your spine, and a single dose contains approximately 6 million cells. The cells alleviate inflammation while increasing the production of other components that will aid in rebuilding the damaged tissues.

In a scientific experiment carried out in a sheep, it was observed that the cells repaired all the damaged vertebrae discs prompting the scientist behind the research to try out the new technique in people. So far, several patients have responded positively to the treatment method and have reported enhanced pain relief over the past few years. This means people can move away from the use of opioids.

Positive Indicators

The discs located between human vertebrae serve as shock absorbers but sometimes, the discs dry out through aging or constant wear and tear reducing the cushioning power. The primary objective of the stem cells is to treat the degenerative disc diseases that are characterized by continuous lower back pains. Disc injury or damage will also trigger inflammation which aggravates the condition.

From the sample results of the experiment, one injection of stem cells was sufficient enough to help about half of those treated alleviate their chronic back pain. Some of the people who’ve used this treatment haven’t reported any cases of back pain for the past three years.

Mesoblast, the company behind this experiment, presented the preliminary results during the annual meeting of the United States Spine Intervention Society in August last year.

How Is It Done?

The company extracts the stem cells from the bone marrow of donors and takes them to the laboratory to grow large amounts that can treat several people. The immune system of the recipient doesn’t recognize the cells hence they remain harmless the prolotherapy doctors say that the stem cells reinvent the vertebrae discs that have cracked or dried out. The cells trap water between the discs causing them to strengthen and thrive again.

Last year, President Donald Trump expressed intentions to declare the opioid crisis in the country a national emergency to increase awareness. However, the opioid crisis isn’t an American problem only, since opioid painkiller addiction is becoming a major concern in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world as well.