What is Chronic Pain?
Many individuals are plagued with chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined most simply as any pain condition or expression of pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) which persists for a period of time, usually more than a month, and does not arise suddenly as the result of a specific injury or event-which would be acute. Though acute and subacute pain can progress to chronicity. Chronic pain can persist or “come and go,” previously stated acute pain is a normal sensation which arises in response to a particular event. Common diseases associated with chronic pain include arthritis, autoimmune, neurodegenerative disorders, as well as many inflammatory conditions. Chronic pain conditions account for lost productivity in the workplace, and medication designed to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause can lead to dependence and addiction to potentially dangerous substances that can lead to further social and emotional problems, while simply covering up the instances of pain symptoms. While there are therapeutic benefits of anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medication interventions, science is always looking for additional options to improve the lives of patients affected by chronic pain.
One such alternative treatment option for chronic pain and related disorders is the use of Stromal Vascular Fraction, or SVF (adipose tissue “juice” that is rich in stem cells). SVF, is isolated from fatty connective tissue associated with subcutaneous (under the skin) fat and blood vessels. Autologous SVF (derived from the patient’s own tissues rather than a donor), can be produced from lipoaspirate of fatty tissue using local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. Lipoaspirate is any fluid tissue, obtained by liposuction, which has fat cells, adipocytes, and all other cell types of that tissue- including different types of stem cells. Fat-derived stem cells have been shown to be more adaptable than bone marrow-derived stem cells, which historically was the primary method of obtaining stem cells. SVF cells are known to possess regenerative, anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, and pain mitigating properties. Part of the benefit of these cells is the fact that, when isolated from tissues with fat and blood vessels, the liquid is known to contain what is known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). These cells can evolve to become almost any type of cell found within the body, utilizing a process known as selective differentiation. Therefore, depending on where the damage or inflammation occurs, MSC tissue can work to repair and strengthen muscle fibers, connective tissues such as tendons and cartilage, or strengthen bone tissue, blood vessels, or specific organs. Most importantly, the use of stem cell therapies including SVF can mitigate life-changing symptoms of pain and inflammation due to a number of conditions.
In a recently published study examining the efficacy of SVF interventions for chronic pain, based upon over six years of continuous experimental research and the efforts of approximately 100 separate physician teams around the world, autologous SVF has been shown to mitigate the effects of chronic pain. Although much of the preliminary efficacy and safety data came from veterinary experience, this shared database of information takes into account the self-report data and test results related to over 3,500 adult human patients. The studied SVF cellular material was shown to contain anti-inflammatory cytokines (secreted by the immune system, and capable of affecting other cell types in the body), growth factors as well as blood-borne stem cells which give rise to other restorative agents within the blood such as white and red blood cells. The administration of SVF cells are showing themselves through the data to be reliable agents which can play a large role in outpatient treatment of pain (not requiring inpatient hospitalization, extensive surgery, or life-altering medication regimes). This news is great for patients who believed that their only recourse in terms of pain mitigation from autoimmune or inflammatory conditions was surgery or a lifetime of dependence on medication.
SVF, and stem cells, in general, can differentiate themselves to be a variety of different cells depending on the needs and requirements of the patient. These adult mesenchymal stem cells, known to be contained in the connective tissues the SVF is isolated from, have been known to differentiate into osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage), myocytes (muscle), or adipocytes (fat cells) depending on what system or organ requires repair and triggers the appropriate differentiation. In fact, there is evidence-based, as well as extensive anecdotal, evidence that suggests that adult MSC’s provide a significant benefit to sufferers of a variety of autoimmune, inflammatory, as well as degenerative conditions. Additionally, MSC therapy procedures have been known to accelerate healing and promote improved immune function.
The majority of the research related to SVF use corresponds to the treatment of pain related to osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition affecting the flexible tissue at the end of bones, specifically inflammation within those tissues. This increase in research may be because MSC cells dampen overactive pain fiber signals, making this methodology feasibly-therapeutic in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A number of chronic pain-related conditions have been effectively managed using SVF, with osteoarthritis and diseases of the musculoskeletal system being the most common. Of the osteoarthritis sufferers, around 25% of those patients showed positive radiographic evidence of new cartilage formation and over 80% reported a significant reduction in expressed pain symptoms.
As previously-stated, the majority of historical stem cell treatment procedures have involved non-adipose stem cell extraction; either utilizing bone marrow or cord blood stem cells. Understandably, this practice has led to a lot of controversy in regards to stem cells, and their use in the treatment of diseases. In retrospect, adipose tissue stem cell extraction is a valuable procedural resource in the treatment of disease, especially because SVF has been shown to contain at least 100 times more adult stem cells than bone marrow-derived sources. The treatment outcomes related to the study were very positive, with 81% of knee and spine pain sufferers, 89% of hip pain sufferers, and 84% of shoulder pain sufferers reporting a significant impro
vement in symptoms, reported pain levels, and quality of life. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that SVF therapies are expected to serve an important role in the future of medical healing and a valuable resource for people suffering from chronic pain conditions.
Learn more at Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center
At Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, which is an affiliate partner of the Cell Surgical Network, we conduct patient-funded research with the intention of treating patients with their own autologous stem cells. We aid in the management of autoimmune, degenerative, inflammatory, and ischemic conditions, and our highly skilled team of providers is committed to the goal of alleviating symptoms, enhancing functionality, and improving overall quality-of-life for our patients.
Contact Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center and let us show you what “Excellence with a Human Touch” means. For more information on the full list of diseases and disorders that we currently address, please call (866) 885-4823 or contact us via our website, today.