Monday, June 4, 2018

What to Know Before Donating Bone Marrow

A bone marrow transplant could be a literal life-saver for someone with leukemia, lymphoma, or a number of other conditions. Sadly, there are many more patients who need bone marrow transplants than there are donors.

As supporters of adult stem cell science, we believe everyone who can donate bone marrow should consider registering as a donor. A bone marrow donation can make a life-changing difference in the world—and since it takes less than 5% of your existing marrow to save a life, your own immune system won’t be negatively affected while your body regenerates the cells.

If you’re considering donating, or if you’ve already committed and are wondering what to expect, here are some things you should know about bone marrow donations.

Donors aged 18 to 44 are the most requested

Bone marrow transplants from donors aged 18 to 44 have the highest success rate, which is why these donors are the most requested.

Even if you fall outside of this age range, you may still be able to save someone’s life by donating bone marrow, so don’t be discouraged from joining the registry.

More mixed-race donors are needed

Bone marrow transplants are more successful when the patient and donor have the same ethnic background. Minority patients have a much lower chance of finding a matching donor than Caucasian patients—about 50% compared to 90%.

For mixed-race patients in particular, the chances of finding a suitable donor are currently only about 5-7%. While donors from all backgrounds are needed and greatly appreciated, patients may especially benefit from your donation if you come from an African American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or multiracial background.

The donor process takes about 20 to 30 hours, and it won’t cost you anything

Before donating, you’ll probably need to attend an information session and several pre-screening appointments, like a physical exam and blood tests. This is ensure you’re healthy and that the procedure will be safe for you.

Altogether, the donation process will take around 20 to 30 hours of your time, but this is usually spread over four to six weeks. Of course, if there’s travel involved, your time commitment will be greater. Hospital stays for bone marrow donations typically last less than a day. The National Marrow Donor Program will reimburse your travel costs and your medical costs if these aren’t covered by your insurance.

Bone marrow donation isn’t as painful as most people think

During the bone marrow donation procedure, the doctor uses anesthesia, which means you won’t feel any pain. Afterward, you may experience back or hip pain that feels like a common ache or a strained muscle. Some donors also experience muscle pain and headache for a short while after the procedure.

Most people can return to their normal routine within a few days, and your bone marrow naturally replaces itself within four to six weeks. The average time for a full recovery is 20 days—not a lot to save a life.

If you’re interested in becoming a bone marrow donor, we encourage you to join the bone marrow registry. After registering, you’ll be contacted if you match a patient who needs a transplant.

To find out more about our support for the advancement of adult stem cell science, contact us today.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

7 Simple Tips to Reduce Knee Pain

As we age, our bodies can’t always keep up with our plans. This is especially true of the knees, which can fall victim to stiffness, weakness, or downright paineven with simple motions like getting out of bed in the morning.

If your knees are sore, you’re not alone. Studies show that 19.5% of Americans struggle with knee pain, and most people tend to experience it seemingly out of nowhere. Whether your discomfort is caused by an old injury or just years of natural wear and tear, there are lots of simple things you can do to reduce your knee pain and reclaim your mobility.

1. Watch your weight

The knee is one of the largest, most complex joints in the body, and we demand a lot from both. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, you’re placing even more stress on your knees—and that’s a recipe for injury.

If you’re not at your ideal weight, small changes in your diet and exercise plan can make a huge difference. Losing even a small amount of weight can go a long way toward relieving the pressure on your knees and boosting your overall health and happiness.

2. Stay active

Speaking of exercise plans, being active is the best way to keep the muscles that support the knee joint strong and flexible. Try to get some daily cardio exercise, whether it’s a brisk walk, a swim, stationary cycling, or light weightlifting. Tai chi and yoga can also improve balance and ease stiffness.

If you're not sure which exercises are safe or how much you can handle, speak with your doctor or a physical therapist. And if you do prefer to exercise in a class setting, let the instructor know so they can adjust your routine accordingly.

3. Wear the right shoes

Choosing proper footwear is important for everyone, but especially for those with knee pain. The shoes you wear can impact the load placed on the knee joints, making your pain better or worse.

Look for styles that have cushioned insoles to reduce stress on your knees. Athletic shoes are a good option, since they’re designed with motion control and stability features to control inward rotation of the foot, lower leg, and knee. Also try to avoid high heels, which studies show place enough force on the kneecap to lead to significant knee trauma and pain.

4. Avoid jarring your joints

High-impact motions or exercises can further damage weak or painful knees. Avoid joint-jarring exercises like jumping, kickboxing, or sprinting. You may also want to avoid deep squats or lunging, which can worsen pain if performed incorrectly.

5. Incorporate RICE

The RICE method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation is terrific for knee pain caused by arthritis flare-ups or minor injury. Rest your knees, reduce swelling by applying ice for 20 minutes, wear a compression bandage, and keep your knee elevated.

6. Act fast after injury

If you injure your knee, the first 48 to 72 hours are crucial to your recovery. Use a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes four times per day to ease swelling and numb pain. Then you can switch those cold pack sessions out for heat by using a heating pad, warm towel, or soothing bath. 

7. Consider a walking aid

Don’t shy away from using a cane or crutch to support you if you really need one. You can also consider wearing knee splints or braces to strengthen your stride. It might take a little while to adjust, but your knees will thank you.

Find lasting relief with alternative therapies

If you’ve tried everything and your knees still hurt, stem cell therapy can be an effective, minimally invasive alternative to traditional surgery in many cases.

During the healing process, adult stem cells are often able to renew the injured knee area, increase blood flow, and release growth factors needed to repair and regenerate tissues. Best of all, stem cell therapy is an outpatient procedure with a much shorter recovery time than surgery. Patients often return to work the very next day, and many report a noticeable improvement after just one session.

To find out if stem cell therapy is right for you, contact us today.

Friday, June 1, 2018

How to Avoid Joint Pain While Gardening This Summer

When you’re living with arthritis or achy joints, everyday tasks can become a challenge. Even something as simple and soothing as gardening can cause discomfort. But this doesn’t have to be your experience this summer. There are many ways to nurture your green thumb without putting your joints at risk.

If you love to spend time gardening in the summer sun but are worried about joint pain or stiffness, here are a few simple tips you can follow.

Make a plan

Having a plan in hand can make gardening a breeze! Do you foresee multiple trips up and down the garden? Grab a wheelbarrow, tug, or bucket to ease the strain on your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Heavy lifting ahead of you? Why not ask a friend or neighbor to help out, or even one of your kids or grandkids?

Decide beforehand what you need help with and what you can handle yourself, and turn your gardening into a fun social occasion where everyone lends a hand!

Have a seat

Gardening is a great way to stay active, but the repetitive motions involved can lead to swelling and joint pain. Fortunately, you don’t have to be on your feet the whole time to get the work done.

Loosen the load on your weight-bearing joints by using a garden stool instead of standing or kneeling. Sure, you might not be able to reach as far, but you’ll be closer to the ground and able to use lighter, shorter tools. You can also purchase long-reach or extendable tools.

Avoid sitting in one spot too long though, as this can cause stiffness and make rising more difficult. Get up from time to time to grab a glass of water or stretch your legs with a quick stroll in the sun.

Get a grip

Choosing the right gardening tools for each task can save you from sore hands later. You can reduce any jarring of the joints and strain on your knuckles if you use tools with a good grip. When it comes to hoes and rakes, slip a spongy rubber sleeve over the handle for a better grasp.

Consider splints

Some gardening tasks can be managed easier while wearing a splint. Weak or painful wrists can be supported with a wrist splint, while thumb splints can be helpful for tasks like pruning that require a tight grip. Consult with an occupational therapist for a more customized solution.

Vary tasks

A successful gardening session requires patience. Give your joints a rest by switching jobs every 20 minutes or so, even if you weren’t quite finished yet—you can always go back to it later. Take breaks between jobs as needed and use a timer to pace yourself. 

It joint pain is holding you back from doing the things you love, it might be time to consider alternative therapies. Stem cell therapy can restore balance in injured tissue by harnessing your body’s own natural healing process. Contact us today to learn more and see if stem cell therapy is right for you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5 Signs You May Have a Herniated Disc—and What to Do About It

Your spine is strong and flexible, but the discs that cushion your vertebrae are highly susceptible to damage. They can get torn through impact, ripped by a bone spur, or just frayed over time with everyday use. When a disc becomes so damaged that the tough outer tissue tears and leaks its gel-like center, it causes a painful condition known as a herniated disc.

It’s possible for this condition to show up on an MRI or CT scan without any accompanying symptoms. But chances are, if you have a herniated disc, you’re going to feel it. Your symptoms will depend on the exact level of the spine where the disc herniation occurs and whether or not it’s affecting nerve tissue.

To help you know what to watch out for, here are five of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc—and how to find the care you need.

1. Spinal pain
A disc herniation can cause local pain at the affected level of the
spine—anywhere from the neck to the lower back.

2. Shooting pain down one side of the body
If the disc herniation is large enough, the tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves and cause shooting pain on one side of the body (referred to as sciatica). For instance, if you have a herniated disc between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae of your lower back, you may experience shooting pain down your buttock into the back of your thigh and down your leg. The pain often worsens upon standing, and decreases when lying down.

3. Numbness, weakness, and tingling
Whether or not you’re feeling pain from a herniated disc, other uncomfortable symptoms like weakness, tingling, and numbness can arise virtually anywhere throughout your body—and most often in the legs. 

4. Stiff neck
If the disc herniation occurs in the cervical spine, you may feel pain shooting down one arm, causing a muscle spasm or stiff neck.

5. Severe pain in one or both lower extremities
In severe cases, a herniated disc can press on spinal nerves on both sides of the body. This can cause debilitating pain down one or both lower extremities, with marked muscle weakness and sometimes incontinence.

Recovering from a herniated disc

In most cases, a herniated disc will not require surgery. This condition can often be cared for with over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, and other non-surgical options.

One of the most innovative treatments for herniated discs is stem cell therapy. This safe and minimally invasive treatment option harnesses your body’s natural healing abilities to help relieve your pain and encourage the affected tissues to repair themselves.

During a 15-minute outpatient session, your doctor will remove mesenchymal, non-embryonic stem cells from your bone marrow, circulating blood, or fat tissue. Then, while you relax comfortably under local anesthetic, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is injected directly into the affected area, which stimulates the tissue to regenerate more effectively. Since the stem cells are taken from your own body, the risk of an adverse reaction is very low.

While you may experience some soreness near the injection sites, the recovery time from stem cell disc therapy is minimal. With a gradual decrease in pain and improvement in mobility, many patients experience noticeable results within six to eight weeks—even after a single treatment.

A herniated disc can be painful, but hope is on the horizon. To learn more about stem cell disc therapy, or to find out if this treatment option is right for you, contact us today.

3 Effective Ways to Reduce Your Fear of Needles Before Your Stem Cell Therapy Session

Modern, innovative, and minimally invasive, stem cell therapy has helped countless patients find long-lasting relief from orthopedic pain, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, and more. But if you’re living with a fear of needles, undergoing this alternative treatment option might feel like a daunting prospect.

Don’t let nerves hold you back from finding the relief you need. If you’re interested in receiving stem cell therapy but are anxious about the injections involved in the procedure, we’re here to help ease your mind. Here are three tried and tested methods that can help you overcome your fear of needles and embrace the benefits of stem cell therapy.

1. Talk to your doctor

We know that receiving any new treatment can be nerve-wracking. That’s why our experienced and caring doctors are more than happy to discuss your concerns with you before your session. We can walk you through everything that happens during your treatment and answer all your questions. Feeling prepared can boost your confidence, helping you breathe easy in the knowledge that there won’t be any surprises.

Some patients have special requests that we will always work to accommodate. For example, you might feel less anxious if you can’t see the needle. Don’t be afraid to tell us what will help you—the session is for your benefit, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure you feel comfortable, relaxed, and happy at all times.

2. Take advantage of distractions

To help you stay calm before your appointment, try reading a book or magazine or listening to music. You can also ask your doctor to chat with you as a distraction while you receive your injection.

To take your mind off the injection itself, you can also try closing your eyes and focusing on other things, like an upcoming vacation or what you need to add to your grocery list. We try to make the environment soothing for you, but if it’s easier for you to avoid looking at your surroundings, that’s perfectly okay. 

3. Try breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can be a great way to relax before any event you’re nervous about—from an important presentation at work to your first stem cell therapy session.

In the waiting room before your treatment or at home before you arrive, breathe in deeply and exhale slowly, focusing on your breaths. Repeat this process for a few minutes until you feel calmer and more in control of the situation.

If you think stem cell therapy might be right for you, or if you’d like to ask us some questions about the treatment to ease your mind and help you prepare, we’re here to help. Get in touch today to find out more. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

How Reducing Stress Can Relieve Back Pain

Most people will experience some form of back pain during their lives. It can happen from lifting something heavy, doing yard work, or even just sitting at a desk all day. Getting older also takes its toll on your back, causing your muscles to lose their elasticity and the cushioning discs between your vertebrae to wear down.

But one common cause of back pain that many people overlook is stress. If your back is sore and you don’t know why, or if you’ve had back pain for awhile that only seems to be growing worse, your stress levels may be to blame. Here’s why—and what you can do about it.

What stress can do to your back

When you experience stress, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol as a natural response. In an isolated instance, this hormone response is good, helping prepare you for a flight-or-flight situation. And after the perceived threat has passed, your hormones return to normal levels.

But if you constantly feel anxious or nervous, your body continues to release those stress hormones in situations that simply don’t warrant them—like when your boss keeps piling more and more work on your plate. You can’t fight or run away in that situation, so those hormones just linger in your body and lead to muscle tension, especially in the back and shoulders.

That constant tension is enough to cause pain—and can pile on to make existing pain worse. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can try to relieve your tension and take control of your health.

1.     Work it out

Exercise can be a great way to help reduce anxiety and ease back pain. Walking, jogging, and other activities that get you up and moving can lower stress hormones and raise endorphin levels, making you feel more positive and acting as natural painkillers.

If you’re worried that exercises will make your back pain worse, try low-impact activities like yoga, swimming, and pilates. Inactivity can actually make your pain worse, so taking some time to do stretches or walk around your garden can work wonders on days when you don’t feel like hitting the gym.

2.     Take a deep breath

Stress causes your heart rate and blood pressure to go up, but deep breathing helps bring them back down. Slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth for a few minutes a day can calm you and reduce stress.

Meditation is another way to lower anxiety, and it may actually change your brain’s makeup to make you more resilient to stress. Try sitting up straight with your feet on the floor and thinking or saying something positive while letting distracting and negative thoughts drift away.

3.     Loosen up

Massage, whether through a therapist or on your own, can help take your mind off stressors and loosen tight muscles. It allows you to directly target back pain and soreness—plus, it’s really relaxing.

4.     Sleep it off

Many of us don’t get enough rest, and stress can make drifting off all the more difficult. When you don’t sleep well, it affects your mind and your body, contributing to anxious thoughts and preventing your body from performing necessary maintenance work—like repairing the damaged tissues that are causing your pain.

To get some good shut-eye, avoid distractions like your TV or phone, and create a relaxing environment that’s quiet, dark, and cool. It also helps to stick to a consistent bedtime schedule, even on weekends.

Reducing your stress levels can often ease your back pain. But if you’ve been living with back pain for a while, it might be time to consider alternative treatment options. Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive procedure which uses your body’s own regenerative abilities to help promote circulation and target pain. Contact us today to find out if stem cell therapy is right for you.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Four Simple Ways to Address Morning Soreness

Even after a solid eight hours of sleep, sometimes you still wake up feeling stiff and sore. And while a hot shower sounds enticing, the thought of actually getting into that shower doesn’t. If you’re one of the millions of people living with joint pain, the ache can set in long before the day begins.

So why does this happen? As you age, your bones begin to degenerate and the cartilage protecting and buffering your joints becomes drier and less porous. During sleep, your muscles relax and your circulation slows, as do the fluids lubricating your joints and cartilage. The less fluid available for lubrication, the stiffer your joints become. And since it can take some time for fluids to seep back into your joints in the morning, the result is stiffness and pain.

Whether you’re living with arthritis, a sports injury, back pain, or any number of other musculoskeletal conditions, joint pain in the morning can shape your entire day. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to make mornings a little easier on your joints.

1. Get Enough Sleep

This seems obvious, but many people people don’t realize how important sleep is to their health and wellbeing. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a whopping 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep.

When you get less than seven hours of sleep, the cost is often sore joints in the morning. Regularly missing out on sleep also increases your risk of developing any number of other chronic diseases and conditions, including stroke and heart disease. So embrace your beauty sleep—it does your body good.

2. Position Yourself Properly

Along with the amount of sleep you get, pay attention to how you sleep. A pillow that’s too soft or too firm can place undue strain on your neck, forcing your spine into uncomfortable positions.

Similarly, pay attention to your mattress. One that’s too soft can aggravate joint pain because there isn’t enough support, which can prompt restlessness and, ultimately, sleeplessness.

3. Take a Soothing Bath Before Bed

A warm bath is a great way to relax before bed, helping you sink into a restful sleep more easily. But the water also helps soothe your muscles and joints, leading to less pain and stiffness come morning. Trying adding Epsom salts to your bath to help with inflammation and soften your skin.

4. Sleep Tight (and Warm)

When the temperature drops, your joint pain can feel worse. No matter what the weather is doing outside, your body will be far more responsive and your muscles more supple when they’re toasty in bed. Always keep an extra blanket handy and keep your feet and toes under the covers. A pair of snuggly bed socks can help keep them warm if you find you often kick off the covers.

If joint pain is making your morning—and the rest of your day—hard to endure, it might be time to consider other non-surgical options. Stem cell therapy uses the body’s own regenerative abilities to help bring relief and healing to patients with joint pain. Contact us today to find out if stem cell therapy might help make your mornings a little brighter.