Treating low back pain has its limits; most treatment methods include therapy, chiropractic care, steroids, and pain medications. Even with these treatments, the reversal of disc pathology has yet to be achieved. The study of using autologous bone marrow concentrate (BMC) injections to treat discogenic low back pain was recently conducted. Although positive conclusions were drawn from the study, it was suggested that more studies need to be done to get more definitive answers; however, surgeons now have the option to use BMC as a “stem cell” preparation in order to treat discogenic low back pain.
During the course of the study, patients were injected with autologous BMC into the lumbar disc. The injection process took approximately 30 minutes; patients were sedated while the injections were done in order to keep them comfortable. The bone marrow injections were studied for safety, and results show that no complications associated with the procedure and injections occurred. The pain was measured against the patient’s pain levels prior to the procedure. Each patient was tested in intervals: pre-treatment, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.
Patients who had high concentration levels of stem cells that were greater than 2,000 CFU-L ml demonstrated a significant amount of improvement in their pain score, regardless of their age. The patients who were younger than 40 did not have a significant difference in their overall pain score, but there function was significantly better showing improvement in their ODI and VAS (functional tests), at each interval of testing.
The study concluded, and preliminary results indicated that it is safe to utilize the autologous BMC preparation in order to treat discogenic back pain. Although most patients were reported to have a reduced amount of pain after the 12 month mark, physicians believe that the follow-up needs to be verified with longer intervals, and more randomized prospective studies.