The spine plays very important role in the health of an average person. Any issues that affect it can impact negatively on the overall quality of life. Back problems affect many people in modern society, no thanks to lifestyle choices of many. These are capable of inhibiting productivity and the extent of pleasure affected individuals get in their leisure periods. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapies are two of the methods getting increased attention for reversing spinal damage due to aging or injury. These have shown great promise and are less invasive.
The sort of lifestyles that most people maintain these days has contributed to raise the incidence of back or spinal issues. A very common reason why many people stay away from their jobs is back pain. About 1 in 2 of working Americans are said to admit to experiencing symptoms of this problem every year. Perhaps, more shocking is the fact that around 31 million Americans suffer from low back pain at any point in time. A whopping 80 percent of those in the population will have a back problem at one time or the other during their lives, according to health professionals.
The human spine is a complex structure comprising ligaments, muscles, bones and joints. A problem with any of these components can give rise to back pain. The most common causes of back pain include arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle or ligament strain and ruptured or bulging disks. Stress and some diseases can also lead to back issues. Aside aging and heredity, lifestyle choices are among the greatest risk factors. Smoking, poor physical fitness, poor posture, and obesity contribute significantly to incidence of back pain.
What is PRP? This is an abbreviation for platelet-rich plasma. As its name indicates, it is blood plasma which has been enriched with platelets. PRP possesses several growth factors and cytokines, including insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2, platelet-derived growth factor and fibroblast growth factor. These components help to stimulate soft tissue and bone healing. PRP Therapy relies on the body’s natural healing mechanism to deliver more reliable and long-lasting option for those having spine-related issues. Platelets promote blood clotting and speed up the injury healing process.
On the other hand, stem cells are biological cells capable of differentiating into specialized cells and dividing to produce more stem cells. It is the regenerative potential of these undifferentiated cells that makes them highly beneficial to the spine with all its bones, muscles, joints and ligaments. In general, stem cell therapy is not only used for dealing with spine issues, but also to treat or prevent diseases. The cells have been explored with regards to how they can be useful for remedying brain and spinal cord injury, promoting wound healing and combating neurodegeneration, among others.
With greater attention on PRP and stem cells in recent times, some might think the two are the same. They are not. The two work together to achieve similar purpose, but they do so in different ways. You get the best results when you get combined PRP and stem cell therapy. To make this clearer, imagine an injury to a ligament or muscle. PRP gradually accumulate at the site of injury to promote blood clotting and check bleeding, while also releasing growth factors to facilitate repair response. The growth factors in the plasma help to draw stem cells to the injured area to promote regeneration. However, stem cell therapy makes greater amount of these biological cells available, accelerating tissue healing and regeneration.
PRP and stem cell therapy is said to be beneficial for the following conditions:
PRP therapy and stem cell therapy, especially the latter, are considered particularly useful for those with degenerative diseases that result in tissue loss. They offer a good means of avoiding surgery for reversing damage to the spine.
There are different types of stem cells that may be used for the treatment of those individuals with spinal issues, including those affecting spinal disks. The two major categories are autologous mesenchymal stem cells and allogeneic stem cells. The autologous stem cells are those that are extracted from the body of the patient that is to be treated. Here are the three known sources of accessible stem cells:
PRP therapy is supposed to be a painless treatment procedure and can be done on a visit to a qualified health practitioner. It begins with the collection or drawing of blood from the patient. The collected blood is then put in a centrifuge, a fast-spinning machine that helps to separate the blood into portions of concentrated platelets and red blood cells. The normal baseline blood platelet count in an average human is put at about 200,000 per µL. Centrifugation, as used in PRP therapy, helps to raise the concentration by about five times. The concentrated platelet-rich plasma that comes out of centrifugation is used for the treatment. This is injected into the ligament, muscle, tendon or other parts that is affected by an injury. The entire treatment process may take no longer than an hour to complete.
Just like PRP therapy, stem cell therapy is also done with the aid of injections. These intravenous injections are ideally supervised by a qualified and licensed physician. It is also possible for treatment to be done intrathecally – that is, by injecting these cells into the spinal fluid. The latter approach lets the stem cells circumvent the blood-brain obstacle and proceed direct to the injured part in the spinal canal. X-ray and ultrasound may be used for guidance when giving these injections to ensure appropriate placement and safety.
Some of the leading countries involved in this type of treatment are China, the United States, Mexico, Lebanon and South Korea. Ukraine, Thailand, India, Brazil, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom are among the other countries where doctors perform research, manipulation, storage and therapy.
Well, it may be said that no amount is too big to pay to enjoy solid health. Still, you can hardly rule out cost when making any decision that involves spending. The decision on how much you will need to part with for PRP or stem cell therapy will depend on a variety of factors. Among these considerations is the extent or severity of the problem as well as how long you have had it. The number of areas to be treated and number of cells needed to achieve desired result will also determine the amount of money you will need to part with.
When it comes to getting PRP or stem cell therapy, Regenexx Network clinics, such as Health Link Medical Centre [LINK: www.healthlinkcenter.com/frequently-asked-questions/], offer probably the best option. But this means you should expect to pay a starting amount around $1000 for PRP therapy and $5000-$8000 for stem cell procedure. PRP procedure pricing starts at $850 at SmartChoice Stem Cell Institute [LINK: www.smartchoicestemcell.com/about-us/cost-and-financing.aspx], which claims to be better than Regenexx clinics in certain regards; stem cell therapy costs a minimum of $3,500. Darrow Sports and Wellness Institute (DSWI) [LINK: www.stemcellinstitute.com/cost-of-treatment.html] offers one of the cheapest rates, with per-area charge starting at $800 and $1,800 for PRP and stem cell therapy respectively. Caring Medical [LINK: www.caringmedical.com/for-patients/pricing-and-payment-policies/] is another provider you may want to check out for reasonable rates.
A good number of these clinics charge lower amount for each area treated at the same time. For example, SmartChoice Stem Cell Institute charges as low as $850 (up to $1500) for additional joint treated with stem cell therapy.
Some studies that have been done on this treatment method have shown great promise for reversing spine damage. The usefulness of stem cells for this purpose was suggested in double-blind trials by Black et al. (2008) and Nixon et al. (2008) on dogs and horses suffering from osteoarthritis and tendon issues. Based on MRI evidence provided by Centeno et al. (2008), stem cell therapy helped increase knee cartilage volume in cases of degenerative joint disease. Some of the clinics involved in PRP and stem cell therapy also claims to have many people they have successfully treated employing this means.
If you are concerned about having to undergo surgery to deal with a spinal issue, this treatment approach may appeal to you. It is not as invasive as surgical procedure and is supposedly painless. PRP and stem cells promote quick healing and faster tissue regeneration, including production of new tissues. These are said to offer permanent solutions to issues affecting spine health, including spinal cord injury, and may work where other treatment options have failed.
The risks involved in PRP and stem cell therapies are minimal since you are mostly being treated with what is taken from your own body. But then, considering treatment is done with the use of injections, bleeding, nerve damage and infection are some of the risk one may not be able to rule out totally. This makes it all the more important to ensure you are working with an experienced doctor.
Either PRP or stem cell therapy can help to expedite the healing process, but it is best to combine both for enhanced outcome if you have the required financial resources. The cost of treatment may be on the high side, but cost or consequences of inaction may be greater.
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