We often associate chronic pain with aging, and indeed, the 2011 census showed that Canada has an aging population, with senior citizens accounting for nearly 15% of the country’s population. But pain knows no bounds: A 2010 study found that 1.5 million Canadians ages 12 to 44 suffer from chronic pain, most commonly back pain. With this many people suffering, it is no surprise that Canadians are now looking everywhere — including outside the country — for relief.
One area of pain medicine where Canada currently falls behind is regenerative therapy. Currently being studied in universities and hospitals across the United States, regenerative therapy has begun to emerge as a promising treatment for patients who suffer from pain due to tissue loss as a result of injury or aging. Using injections of natural substances, regenerative therapy works by stimulating the body to heal itself, “regenerating” the lost or injured tissue. Though this promising new treatment is being studied in Canadian universities and research centres, it remains relatively uncommon.
One of the goals of the Spine Institute Northwest is to keep abreast of the latest research and treatments available. Located close to BC, the Spine Institute Northwest treats many Canadian patients as well as Americans, focusing on treatments that bring relief from pain in ways that is minimally invasive and maximally effective. Traditional open-back surgeries, which cut through layers of muscle and tissue, involve higher risks and longer recovery times. With a focus on minimally invasive procedures and accurate diagnoses, the surgeons of the Spine Institute Northwest aim for patients to be able to return to their normal lifestyles as quickly as possible.
Regenerative therapy works by triggering the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Introducing natural substances at the site of the pain (for example, intervertebral discs injured by degenerative disc disease), regenerative therapy causes the body to grow new cells, increasing the strength of the targeted area and relieving pain.
The Spine Institute Northwest is currently working with three types of regenerative materials:
The first, platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a concentration of platelet cells taken from the patient’s own blood. Platelets contain growth factors that may help in the healing process of chronic injuries, signaling to the body to start healing when the PRP is injected into the area of injury. PRP has applications for many orthopedic conditions.
Another treatment used by the Spine Institute Northwest is BioD. BioD comes from fetal afterbirth tissue and also cells recovered from live, healthy donors during childbirth. The placental tissue in BioD contains proteins, growth factors, and residual multipotent cells that stimulate the growth of new cells. BioD can be used in procedures including interspinal muscle protection, nerve bundle protection, microdiscectomy, discectomy, and laminectomy.
A third treatment used is MatriStem, a complex protein obtained from pig bladders. Tissue and even organs from pigs have been safely used for years in treating humans. These bladder cells have a composition similar to that of human tissue, and trigger reactions in the body that halt scar formation and encourage cells to return to their normal state. MatriStem is used in many types of procedures, including treating sports injuries.
There is considerable hope that regenerative therapy will be a new frontier for pain medicine, and the doctors at the Spine Institute Northwest are working to keep up with the growing body of research on regenerative therapies. If you cannot find treatment in Canada, we encourage you to look at the Spine Institute Northwest. Our goal is to help people living with chronic pain get back their lives, and with less invasive therapies, travel to the United States for medical care and treatment is a worthwhile option to consider. Regenerative therapy in particular is an exciting new area, and the surgeons of the Spine Institute Northwest are excited to be part of this new hope for the treatment of chronic pain.
Curious about whether regenerative therapy could help free you from pain? Contact the Spine Institute Northwest today at (206) 457-2933 to set up a free consultation.