Chronic back painis the second most common cause of disability for American adults, but there could be a breakthrough on the way. A new experimental treatment that uses stem cells to treat back problems is already yielding positive results. The treatment is entering a second phase of year-long trials, and so far 70% of those treated have reported improvement in their condition. The treatment involves injecting stem cells directly into bad discs. Wear and tear on those discs is one of the biggest causes of chronic back pain.
Dr. Ahmed Sewielam is the chief of pain management at the Spine Center for Houston's Kelsey-Seybold clinic. He tells KTRH this treatment is a major advancement. "Treatment of back pain at this point has been geared more toward treatment of the pain itself, rather than trying to help fix the problem," says Dr Sewielam. "Stem cells hope is to regenerate or improve what has been worn through wear and tear over years." In particular, Dr. Sewielam sees big potential for treating those with lower back problems. "Stem cells have been used to try to help regenerate or rejuvenate the discs in the lower back area," he says.
Doctors conducting these stem cell tests are hoping to meet with the FDA soon to discuss taking the treatment further. If it proves successful, this treatment could bring more permanent results for many back pain sufferers and help many avoid surgery. However, that is still a long way off. "It's still in the early phases of course, we have to go through a lot of research and there are more studies to be done," says Dr. Sewielam. "But this is very promising for a variety of disorders, including back pain."