Don’t start 2017 wrestling with the same back pain that had you sidelined in 2016. Visit StemCell ARTS, where the phsysicians take extra care to diagnose the underlying cause of the back pain, leading to more focused and effective treatment options. In addition, the physicians are able to offer regenerative treatments, such as Platelet Rich Plasma and Platelet Lysate. These procedures can help patients who have failed , or those who may not be able to receive, traditional interventions for one reason or another.
Back pain is a broad term that can encompass a variety of conditions. Is the back pain related to the facet joints? What about the epidural spaces or the disc? Sometimes, determining the cause of back pain can be difficult, resulting in treatments that can be insufficient. Often, patients are treated with well-known, traditional treatments when they cite back pain as their primary area of discomfort. These treatments can include steroid injections, physical therapy, surgical intervention, bracing, etc. But what happens when those treatments fail to provide long-term relief? What happens when patients have residual pain following surgery? StemCell ARTS has alternative treatments that can help!
Listen to Dr. Wagner describe different causes of back pain, how the physicans at StemCell ARTS develop accurate diagnoses, and some of the regenerative treatment options.
Cervical spine (neck) pain is a common condition, suffered by many people. Whether it’s spinal stenosis, a disc herniation, or simply overexertion, the pain can become debilitating and lead to long term suffering. The cervical spine is a vulnerable structure that is comprised of joints and ligaments, working together to support the head. Its susceptibility to injury can result in a number of conditions causing spasm, headaches, or shooting pains. Finding the source of the pain is the first step, since damage in one area can affect many supporting systems. In the majority of cases, cortisone injections can help in the management of neck pain. In other patients, surgical intervention may be recommended. However, there are those who suffer from severe or chronic pain who have exhausted conservative treatment measures, or still have pain post surgery, and are left searching for an alternative solution.
Newly developed biological treatments have provided an opportunity for chronic pain sufferers to experience a long-lasting, natural solution to their neck pain. Regenerative treatments, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) or Platelet Lysate, contain highly concentrated growth factors from a patient’s own blood to attract repair cells and initiate the body’s healing process. In some cases, Prolotherapy, a concentrated solution of Dextrose and anesthetic can be used in conjunction with the platelet procedures, or on its own. Prolotherapy helps stimulate the body’s natural ability to strengthen ligaments and tendon surrounding the cervical spine. The regenerative treatments offered by the physicians at StemCell ARTS can offer relief to patients looking for a solution to their chronic neck pain.
A female patient has followed Dr. Benjamin Newton from Boulder, CO to Philly and, now, to StemCell ARTS in McLean, VA. She receives PRP and Prolotherapy injections for low back issues, SI joints, and facets. The patient reports that each time Dr. Newton has injected the affected area, she is virtually pain free within 24 hours and back to normal activities in just a couple of days. After finishing her last procedure, the patient dealt with airport travel, including delays and sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes prior to departing. The patient took one pain reliever to get home and hasn’t had any since. Not even Tylenol. The patient explains, “I believe in the power of regenerative medicine and my hope is that many more people will know more about this very effective option in overcoming injuries or arthritis instead of life altering surgical intervention.” Click here to read the patient’s previous Facebook post
Recent studies found that chronic neck pain is a serious problem. It affects anywhere from 13% to over 25% of the general population. Of this percentage, 37% contribute their pain to a motor vehicle accident, where a whiplash-type injury is very common.
Whiplash can cause neck and shoulder pain, and another recent study found that it can also be attributed to headaches, dizziness, visual impairment and nausea. It is caused when stationary neck joints rapidly and violently shift and then return to their original position. In the case of a car accident, typically joints on the top of the neck shift back, while joints on the bottom of the neck go forward. Ligaments, which hold the joints in place, are stretched as a result. Potentially severe pain now exists, as there is increased motion in the joints after the injury. Muscles in the neck become tense to compensate for the loose ligaments and hold the joints in place. A patient suffering from whiplash can have both tense muscles and pain in the ligaments and in neck joint capsules.
Whiplash: How it’s treated
The good news is that 90% of patients can heal from a whiplash injury in just a few months through a combination of physical therapy and anti-inflammatories. But in the other 10%, the ligaments are stretched too far, or the joint itself is damaged and cannot heal on its own. To find the root cause of pain with these patients, a local anesthetic or nerve block is administered at the injury site to accurately pinpoint whether the joint is the source of pain. If pain is relieved, it confirms the diagnosis. Once diagnosed, a treatment plan can be developed to jump start healing.
Treating a Whiplash Neck Injury: The Platelet Rich Plasma Process
Platelets initiate tissue repair by releasing growth factors. These growth factors start the healing process by attracting cells that repair us, including critical stem cells. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy intensifies this process by delivering a higher concentration of platelets. The therapy involves a small sample of the patient’s blood placed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the other blood components. The concentrated PRP is then injected into and around the point of injury, significantly strengthening the body’s natural healing. Our process for PRP is much different and sets us apart. Because our samples are all hand processed, we are able to produce PRP that is free of contaminating red and white cells, which can inhibit repair. This same special process also allows us to customize the concentration and volume for each individual and each injury type. This greatly improves outcomes.
PRP treatment typically takes about an hour, and the patient will go home that same day. Recovery from the injection is usually within 1 week of the procedure. On average, 3-4 treatments are necessary to heal a whiplash injury. Once the joints and tendons heal, then tension in the muscles will relax and the patient can experience significant improvement.
Pain from a whiplash injury should never be accepted as the “new normal.” Real help is available, even when traditional treatments fail. PRP is a solid answer for those 10% of whiplash patient still seeking relief.
 Bovim G, Schrader H, S and T, “Neck Pain in the General Population,” Spine, (1994), 19:1307–9
 Freeman, M, Croft, A, Rossignol, A, Centeno, C, Elkins, W, “Chronic Neck Pain and Whiplash: A Case-Control Study of the Relationship between Acute Whiplash Injuries and Chronic Neck Pain,” Pain Research and Management, (2006 Summer), 11(2): 79–83, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2585479/?report=classic#b28-prm11079
 Ishikawa S, Yokoyama M, Mizobuchi S, Hashimoto H, Moriyama E, Morita K, “Epidural Blood Patch Therapy for Chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorder,” Anesthesia and Analgesia, (September 2007), 105(3):809-14, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17717243?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
It may start as an aching sensation in your neck or back that fades and returns. The pain may increase and last longer over time. You may begin to lose flexibility and stretching or turning your back might increase the pain. If you have these symptoms, you might be suffering from facet syndrome.
Facet syndrome is a common diagnosis for back, mid-back and neck pain. The facet is a joint that lies between each of the vertebra in the back. These joints are in constant motion, providing the spine with both the stability and flexibility needed to walk, run, bend, sit, and twist. The joint surfaces are lined with cartilage allowing them to glide easily over each other. The joint can be become damaged from an injury, or due to a degenerative condition, such as arthritis. When the joint cartilage deteriorates, friction between the bones leads to the tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and pain. The muscles will also work harder to protect the injured area, becoming very tense and stiff.
Video: Understanding Facet Syndrome, Causes and Treatments:
Pain that is often worse in the beginning and end of the day, or with a change in weather
Lower back pain that is primarily at the waist level
Neck pain that radiates into the shoulders, or head
Headaches at the base of the skull, aching behind the eyes, and/or ringing in the ears
The sound of bone rubbing on bone when you move
Abnormal curvature in the spine
Increase in pain when first standing, when sitting for long periods of time, or when bending or twisting
Risk Factors for Facet Syndrome
Back overuse due to sports or heavy labor
Family history of facet syndrome or back pain
Presence of disease such as gout, other types of arthritis, or infections
Damage from injuries, including whiplash, or sleeping with a twisted neck
Any injury with a sudden jerk of the neck, twisting while lifting overhead, or trauma to the spine
Treating Facet Syndrome
A treatment plan for Facet Syndrome can start with physical therapy to improve strength, mobility and range of motion. MRIs and x-rays can help confirm the diagnosis, and the diagnoses can be confirmed further through an injection of anesthetic and cortisone into what is believed to be the affected joint. If there is a reduction in pain, then this confirms the true source of your pain.
Cortisone is also helpful in reducing inflammation around the facet joint. However, these treatments may not return the patient to the flexibility and comfort level desired. This is where biologic regenerative treatments, such as Prolotherapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), are particularly effective in actually helping the facet joint to heal, instead of merely reducing the symptoms. These treatments actually help to restore the strength to the neck or back.
Prolotherapy contains a solution of concentrated dextrose and local anesthetic (steroids are not used). This solution stimulates the body’s natural ability to repair damaged tissue, encouraging new growth and creating a positive environment into which the stem cells are placed.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelets initiate tissue repair by releasing growth factors. These growth factors start the healing process by attracting cells that repair us, including critical stem cells. Platelet Rich Plasma therapy intensifies this process by delivering a higher concentration of platelets. The therapy involves a small sample of the patient’s blood placed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the other blood components. The concentrated PRP is then injected into and around the point of injury, significantly strengthening the body’s natural healing. Our process for PRP is much different and sets us apart. Because our samples are all hand processed, we are able to produce PRP that is free of contaminating red and white cells, which can inhibit repair. This same special process also allows us to customize the concentration and volume for each individual and each injury type. This greatly improves outcomes.
With treatments such as Prolotherapy and Platelet Rich Plasma, it is possible to restore the facet joint back to normal function. The muscles around the joint will begin to relax as a result, and the patient can return to the normal range of motion and flexibility experienced before the onset of Facet Syndrome.
Are You Still Suffering after Back Surgery? Gain Real Control Over Pain and Promote Your Own Healing
At StemCell ARTS, we see many patients seeking further medical intervention after they’ve had back surgery; especially when the surgery fails to deliver the mobility, activity level and quality of life that they were expecting. Patients who have had spinal fusion surgery tend to fall most often into this category.
After spinal surgery, the spine will lose some mobility in the repaired area, as it has been fused. This fusing forces additional stress in the areas above and below the fused section. If the areas of increased motion are not able to handle the additional stress, they can cause further injuries
In many cases, the surgery may have actually been successful, in that it did repair the one issue that it was designed to address. The problem is that other issues in the back might still be present. For example, back surgery might repair a herniated disc, but miss a torn ligament, a damaged facet joint or a sacroiliac joint. These other problems, too often, can’t be fixed with surgery. The patient will often mistakenly feel that surgery was a failure, when the real answer is that it was not the solution to their problem. Alternative types of treatment must be considered in order to resolve these remaining issues and here, at StemCell ARTS we are at the forefront of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Platelet Lysate Therapy.
Currently, there are pain-specific diagnostic tools available to determine the true sources of continued pain after back surgery. To confirm whether additional back injuries are present, a local anesthetic or nerve block can be administered to accurately pinpoint whether a specific area is the source of the patient’s pain. If their pain is relieved by nerve block, then it confirms the diagnosis that the pain was in the desensitized area. Only after conducting a thorough review of a patient’s history, a physical examination and other comprehensive testing, can a diagnosis can be reached. Once diagnosed, a treatment plan, utilizing part or all of either PRP or Platelet Lysate Therapy, can be developed in order to promote healing.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelets initiate tissue repair by releasing growth factors. These growth factors start the healing process by attracting other cells that also repair, including critical stem cells. Platelet Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) intensifies this process by delivering a high concentration of platelets. This therapy involves a small sample of the patient’s blood being placed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from other blood components. The concentrated PRP is then injected into problem areas whether they are weakened ligaments, injured joints or poor muscle attachments. The process significantly strengthens the body’s own natural healing process. StemCell ARTS’ system for deriving PRP is much different than other PRP providers and sets us far apart. Because our samples are all hand-processed, we are able to produce PRP that is free of contaminating red and white cells, which can inhibit the repair process. This same innovative process also allows us to customize the concentration and volume for each individual and each injury type.
In certain cases, a patient may have residual nerve pain. In those isolated cases, we can apply a Platelet Lysate solution, as it is a wonderful healing agent for nerves. Platelets in the blood release powerful tissue growth factors that aid in the healing process. Normally, healing occurs naturally over time, but through the creation of a Platelet Lysate solution, a high concentration of growth factors can be released immediately into the injured or damaged area. At StemCell ARTS, we inject the solution directly into the spinal canal, thus allowing the nerves to return to their original integrity that they were before they were after they’ve been traumatized from the initial injury. Studies show that these Platelet Lysate injections can work better and longer than Epidural Steroid injections.
The potential net result of either PRP or Platelet Lysate Therapy has proven to contribute to a significant improvement in the residual issues that a patient can have after surgery, and a return to a full quality of life and previous range of activities can be expected.