Orthopedic Surgery vs Stem Cell Therapy for Lumbar Disc Herniations

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Think about Regenexx Stem Cell Therapy before you decide to have Back Surgery!

Stem cell therapy has quickly become popular in the media for the treatment of various orthopedic ailments. It is a form of regenerative medicine that basically takes your own healthy stem cells from your bone marrow and transplants them to specific injured tissues throughout your body. These stem cells when in a nurturing environment filled with growth factors and nutrients, can then differentiate into the cells that make up the specific target tissue. Stem cell therapy can allow the body to heal itself well enough to improve the pain caused by certain orthopedic conditions and ideally improve the overall joint functionality over time. 

Regenexx Stem Cell  Therapy is not necessarily a cure but can be a great option for patients that are considering back surgery in order to improve their low back pain and daily functionality.  


Does Back Surgery for Low Back Pain work?

Before understanding the significance of Regenexx Stem Cell Therapy for low back pain, we must adequately evaluate the benefits of neurosurgical solutions for low back pain. There are many surgical options that are available for patients with debilitating chronic low back pain, specifically chronic low back pain that has failed to improve with conservative measures such as physical therapy, medications, and minimally invasive interventional pain procedures such as lumbar epidural steroid injections. For most patients that consider surgery for their pain, it is often a last-line solution. The surgical solutions are tailored to the specific patient's history and presentation and the plan can vary based on the patient's individual characteristics and imaging findings. 

However this being said, back surgery is not guaranteed to work for every patient and even has the potential to make the back pain worse if there are any complications. We at Ospina Medical believe that it may be beneficial for some of our own patients to try some other regenerative medicine options before considering invasive back surgery because we have seen some of our patients benefit from such interventions. 

Stem Cell therapy is advantageous for many reasons:    

  • It is minimally invasive and causes minimal harm. The entire procedure is performed using small diameter needles to target specific tissues and is performed with intraoperative ultrasound and fluoroscopic guidance.     
  • Stem cell therapy is a form of autologous therapy since the cells come from your own body. Stem cells are the body’s raw materials, all other body cells are created from the stem cells. Regenexx Stem Cell Therapy uses bone-marrow-derived stem cells because they are more likely to survive when injected when compared to adipose-derived stem cells with minimal processing. Because they self-divide and are able to grow into specialized cells within specific tissues or organs, it is a more natural way to assist the body’s growth.     
  • There are minimal complications and a theoretically lower chance of infection in comparison to traditional surgical procedures.     
  • Stem cells have a wide variety of applications such as in ligament repairs, nerve inflammation, and aiding in treating other orthopedic conditions such as arthritis in specific joints.     
  • The treatment time is much faster and the recovery period is also minimal. Stem cell therapy has minimal recovery time and no general anesthesia is required for the procedure. The whole procedure is typically performed under light IV sedation without the need for general anesthesia. You are able to save on hospital stays and post-op medications. The treatment will usually start showing results within the next few weeks. 

When comparing stem cell therapy and surgery, there are reasons why one may be better than the other that is all dependent on both the patient and the condition being treated. Stem cell therapy often works better for younger patients where it acts as a preventative measure before the condition gets worse. If the therapy works for the patient they will be able to stop treatment and save money since they no longer require treatments or any surgery. Surgery becomes an option when all more conservative measures have been exhausted and thus is often performed later in a patient’s life. With surgery, there is often an extended recovery period and the surgery itself is quite invasive. 

Why do many people choose surgery instead?

One big consideration to make is that Regenexx Stem Cell and PRP procedures are not covered by Insurance companies whereas back surgery is often covered by your insurance. This is because Stem Cell and PRP therapies are currently being evaluated by the FDA and insurance companies do not often cover experimental treatments. This is discouraging to us at Ospina Medical because we have seen the benefits of Regenexx Stem Cell and PRP therapies firsthand for many of our own patients and hope there will be more well-designed long-term comparative clinical trials between regenerative medicine solutions and surgery moving forward.

In Conclusion

Stem cell therapy is an early intervention procedure that can save you the expenses of costly surgeries later on if the pain can be managed. Although neither Stem Cell Therapy nor Orthopedic Surgery is guaranteed to work, it may be more cost-efficient for most patients to have surgery instead due to insurance coverage. Both options are viable while stem cell treatment is a more natural way to manage pain without unnecessary medications and risks. Patients should discuss both options with their doctors to figure out the ideal plan of treatment for their unique situations.


Of note this is article is not medical advice and the best way to figure out if you are a candidate for stem cell therapy is to consult a qualified physician here at Ospina Medical! We all deserve to live a pain-free life. If pain is interrupting the full life that you envision for yourself, please schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, Dr. Maniam or Dr.Kohler, to review your unique case and your options. We also offer telemedicine services.



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Author: Tahany Moosa

Editor: Ospina Medical Team

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.