A new stem cell treatment for back pain can hopefully control the opioid crisis currently affecting thousands of Americans. The opioid epidemic has caused thousands of deaths mostly due to patients’ addiction to prescribed opioids. Scientists expect to change the statistic with this new stem cell treatment. Read New Scientist’s full story on how stem cell therapy for back pain can keep people away from opioids.
Stem Cell Treatment For Back Pain: The True Solution
A stem cell treatment could finally bring relief to millions of people with chronic lower back pain. If it works, the injection could become a crucial tool for curbing the opioid epidemic currently killing thousands in the US.
Overdoses from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and opioids accounted for 33,000 deaths in 2015 alone. Many of those deaths occur as a result of people becoming addicted to opioids after being prescribed drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone or methadone to relieve lower back pain. It is a common health issue that affects around 28 million people in the US and accounts for around half of all opioid painkiller prescriptions there.
A recent stem cell treatment for lower back pains can help control the opioid crisis and hopefully end it. According to statistics, the cases of overdoses from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. In 2015, there are over 33,000 deaths due to opioids overdose. It is a serious health issue affecting 28 million of the U.S. population.
The firm Mesoblast, in Melbourne, Australia, hopes stem cell treatment will help change those statistics. Each dose injected into a damaged disc between the vertebrae contains 6 million cells. These cells help bring down inflammation and factors in rebuilding the damaged cells. Successful experiments with sheep prompted Silviu Itescu and his team from Mesoblast to test it on humans. In a test with 100 human subjects yielded considerable developments and pain relief on the damaged discs.
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Mesoblast specifically tested cells to treat degenerative disc disease. This accounts for 22 percent of chronic lower back pain cases. The discs located between the vertebrae serve as shock absorbers. These discs though tend to dry out over time through aging. This leads to the reduction of cushioning power and eventually trapped nerves in between. This phenomenon triggers the inflammation causing back pains.
Andy Coghlan’s New Scientist article states that around half of the participants were treated using just one injection of the cells. They came back testifying they have not experienced back pains for two years. Some even reported being pain-free for the past 3 years. The firm presented the results with the US Spine Intervention Society in New Orleans last August. They will give further details during the Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New York in November.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he intends to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. However, the opioid problem is not just a U.S. problem. Similar painkiller addiction stats are continually reported in the U.K. and Australia. This is prompting the government to ban over-the-counter sales of painkillers by February 2018.
The Best Option
New treatments like stem cell therapy are vital in fighting the opioid problem. Though existing alternatives such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy bring immediate impact in easing the problem. Stem cell treatments, though currently considered not a practical application in the present situation, are still the best option.
Learn more about stem cell therapy for low back pain in this video from Harry Adelson, N.D.: