A Comparison of Health Outcomes in the Use of Stem Cells, Surgical, and Nonsurgical Approaches to Treat Degenerative Disk Disease: A Systematic Review

Systematic literature review.

This study provided a systematic review of randomized controlled trials which assessed the therapeutic effects of stem cell treatments, surgical interventions, and nonsurgical treatments on the outcomes of patients diagnoses with intervertebral disk degeneration (IDD).

A MEDLINE (2000-2017), PubMed (2000-2017), and Google scholar (1995-2000) database search was performed to identify published articles reporting on patient-reported clinical outcomes. A total of 12 articles were identified and met the inclusion criteria.

Literature evaluating the comparative treatment outcomes between patients who underwent surgical versus nonsurgical interventions demonstrated mixed findings in treatment efficacy. Although studies involving the manipulation of endogenous stem cells in fibrocartilage suggested that this application could be a potentially noninvasive, stem cell–based strategy to treat fibrocartilage degeneration, especially in patients with IDD.

The reviewed literature suggested that no clinical significance exists between surgical and nonsurgical treatment for IDD. The decision to undergo surgical or conservative treatment should depend on the patient’s state of health at the time of surgery, as well as any other potentially alarming factors (altered mental status, level of consciousness, comorbidities, etc) that could be exacerbated with the proposed treatment. Mesenchymal stem cells and fibrocartilage stem cells may also be an effective therapeutic option for the regeneration of a degenerated intervertebral disk. To move forward in finding an effective therapeutic treatment protocol for IDD, further research needs to be implemented that minimizes the limitation discussed in this review.

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Importance of Stem Cells

Stem cells are important for living organisms for many reasons. In the 3- to 5-day-old embryo, called a blastocyst, the inner cells give rise to the entire body of the organism, including all of the many specialized cell types and organs such as the heart, lung, skin, sperm, eggs and other tissues. In some adult tissues, such as bone marrow, muscle, and brain, discrete populations of adult stem cells generate replacements for cells that are lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease.

Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease. However, much work remains to be done in the laboratory and the clinic to understand how to use these cells for cell-based therapies to treat disease, which is also referred to as regenerative or reparative medicine.

Laboratory studies of stem cells enable scientists to learn about the cells’ essential properties and what makes them different from specialized cell types. Scientists are already using stem cells in the laboratory to screen new drugs and to develop model systems to study normal growth and identify the causes of birth defects.

Research on stem cells continues to advance knowledge about how an organism develops from a single cell and how healthy cells replace damaged cells in adult organisms. Stem cell research is one of the most fascinating areas of contemporary biology, but, as with many expanding fields of scientific inquiry, research on stem cells raises scientific questions as rapidly as it generates new discoveries.

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Recent Advancements in Stem Cell Treatments


Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with a high degree of self-renewal, that can differentiate into many different specialized cell types. Stem cells can be manipulated to provide treatment for illness and disease.

Manipulating Stem Cells for Treatments

Stem cells (SCs) have been studied in great detail regarding regenerative medicine, and in the last few decades, there have been major achievements in the manipulation of SCs. Manipulation of certain types of SCs allows for the research into and treatment of disease. The types of SC used to do this are:

Somatic cells such as fibroblasts can be reprogrammed into iPSCs by employing genetic modifications or chemical treatments. This was first achieved by Yamanaka using 4 genes involved in the maintenance of ECS pluripotency (Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4). The iPSCs can then be directed towards the desired cell type.

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The Meniscus Tear: A Review of Stem Cell Therapies




Meniscal injuries have posed a challenging problem for many years, especially considering that historically the meniscus was considered to be a structure with no important role in the knee joint. This led to earlier treatments aiming at the removal of the entire structure in a procedure known as a meniscectomy. However, with the current understanding of the function and roles of the meniscus, meniscectomy has been identified to accelerate joint degradation significantly and is no longer a preferred treatment option in meniscal tears. Current therapies are now focused to regenerate, repair, or replace the injured meniscus to restore its native function. Repairs have improved in technique and materials over time, with various implant devices being utilized and developed. More recently, strategies have applied stem cells, tissue engineering, and their combination to potentiate healing to achieve superior quality repair tissue and retard the joint degeneration associated with an injured or inadequately functioning meniscus. Accordingly, the purpose of this current review is to summarize the current available pre-clinical and clinical literature using stem cells and tissue engineering for meniscal repair and regeneration.

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Mesenchymal stem cells in osteoarthritis therapy: a review

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease that generally occurs worldwide with pain and disability. The progression is slow, and it is mostly diagnosed midlife and often disturbs the knees, hips, feet, hands, and spine. Sex, age, obesity, occupation, and hereditary factors are risk factors that increase the opportunity for OA. Physical examinations involving X-rays and MRI, joint fluid analysis and blood tests are common tools for the diagnosis of OA. Interventions including exercise, manual therapy, lifestyle modification, and medication can help relieve pain and maintain mobility in the affected joints, yet none of the therapies enables the promotion of regeneration of degenerated tissues. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a promising source for the treatment of OA due to their multipotency for differentiation into chondrocytes and their ability to modulate the immune system. Herein, we review the pathogenesis and treatment of OA and address the current status of MSCs as a novel potential therapeutic agent in OA treatment.

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Can stem cell therapies help my chronic back and neck pain?

Discs in the neck and lower back may degenerate, causing chronic back and neck pain. In the United States, 500,000 spinal fusion surgeries and 400,000 lumbar discectomies are performed every year for people who are dealing with chronic back pain due to disc degeneration. Regenerative medicine offers an alternative to surgery, and the innovation provided by stem cell therapies is an exciting new way to help people who are suffering from chronic back and neck pain that are caused by degenerative disc diseases in the neck and back.

Regenerative medicine is a relatively new branch of translational medicine that is focused on helping the body’s own ability to repair itself by regenerating healthy tissue for the restoration of function. Regenerative therapy may involve injecting stem cells into damaged areas in order to help regenerate healthy tissue.

Undifferentiated cells, stem cells hold the potential to be turned into specialized cells that can form a variety of different tissues. Stem cells may be adult stem cells or embryonic stem cells. Since embryonic stem cells come from human fetuses, there are numerous ethical concerns with using them. Instead, adult stem cells are used for regenerative therapies.

Regenerative stem cell therapy involves taking a patient’s stem cells by removing cells from the patient’s bone marrow. After the cells are extracted, it is then centrifuged in order to separate and identify the specific cells that can help to heal the damaged tissue. The cells are then injected into the degenerated disc, which stimulates the regeneration of the disc’s collagen. As the collagen is regenerated in the damaged disc, its function should slowly be restored.

At Miami Stem Cell our signature stem cell procedure is called “Super Marrow” and it is ideal to treat back / spine related problems. For more information, please visit: www.stemcellmia.com