Stem Cell Treatment of Discogenic Back Pain Shows Encouraging Results

Stem Cell Treatment of Discogenic Back Pain Shows Encouraging Results


With annual costs of low back pain in the United States estimated at one hundred billion dollars annually, there is motivation for ongoing research to provide better outcomes and reduce overall costs.  Discogenic back pain is a very common diagnosis treated non-surgically with medications, physical therapy, activity modification, and epidural injections.  Surgical outcomes for the treatment of discogenic back pain are very disappointing.  Considering that published outcomes document an average of only 35% improvement in pain levels, there are many insurance companies who are denying approval of lumbar fusion surgeries.  A recent study published in International Orthopaedics followed 26 patients with documented discogenic low back pain greater than six months duration.  The patients were treated with an intradiscal injection of bone marrow aspirate.  There were no complications with the procedure. 

Clinical outcomes documented included 92% of patients avoided surgery through 12 months and 81% avoided surgery at two years.  Visual analog scale was used to follow pain levels.  Pain level reductions were noted at 71%, with an improved disability index of 64% through two years. 

Although a small study, these results confirm future potential for intradiscal injection of bone marrow aspirate to manage discogenic back pain. 


Kenneth Pettine et al.  International Orthopaedics.  July 10, 2015.


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