Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain: Utilizing Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)

Louis A. Cona, MD
Updated on
Mar 16, 2023

Discover the groundbreaking potential of stem cell therapy for back pain using cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells delivered intravenously - a revolutionary approach to pain management and overall well-being.

Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain: Utilizing Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)

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Back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting millions. Traditional treatments, including pain relief medications, physical therapy, and surgery, often provide only temporary relief.

In recent years, stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising regenerative medicine approach for treating various orthopedic conditions, including back pain caused by degenerative disc disease.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells capable of developing into specialized cells and self-renewing to produce more stem cells. There are various types of stem cells, including embryonic and adult stem cells.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent adult stem cells found in various tissues, such as bone marrow, fat cells, and cord tissue. These cells can differentiate into multiple cell types, including bone, cartilage, and muscle cells, making them ideal for regenerative therapies.

Cord Tissue-Derived Stem Cells

Cord tissue-derived MSCs are obtained from the umbilical cord tissue, which is rich in MSCs. These cells have shown great potential in regenerative medicine due to their high proliferation rate, immunomodulatory properties, and ability to secrete growth factors.


Stem Cell Therapy for Back Pain

Stem cell treatment for back pain is an innovative, regenerative medicine that leverages mesenchymal stem cells' (MSCs) potential to alleviate chronic discomfort and improve the overall quality of life.

By targeting the root cause of pain, such as degenerative disc disease or herniated discs, MSC therapy promotes tissue repair, reduces inflammation, and restores disc function. With the option of intradiscal injections or intravenous infusions, stem cell therapy offers a promising, minimally invasive alternative for patients seeking long-lasting pain relief and improved well-being.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a common cause of back pain resulting from the wear and tear of the intervertebral discs over time. This can lead to disc degeneration, herniated discs, and pinched nerves, causing pain and discomfort. A stem cell treatment aims to promote disc regeneration and alleviate pain by rebuilding damaged tissue and restoring the disc's function.

Stem Cell Injections

Stem cell injections, such as intradiscal stem cell injections or bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) injections, involve extracting stem cells from a patient's bone marrow or adipose tissue and injecting them into the affected area. This process stimulates the body's natural healing process, promoting disc regeneration and pain relief.


Benefits of Intravenous Stem Cell Delivery

Intravenous delivery of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has emerged as a promising therapeutic approach in regenerative medicine. Introducing MSCs directly into the bloodstream can potentially address a wide range of medical conditions and improve overall health. Here, we discuss the key benefits of intravenous stem cell delivery.

  1. Systemic distribution: One of the main advantages of intravenous MSC delivery is the systemic distribution of the cells. Once introduced into the bloodstream, MSCs can travel throughout the body and home to areas of injury or inflammation, providing a comprehensive therapeutic effect. This widespread distribution allows MSCs to target multiple affected regions, offering a more holistic approach to treatment.
  2. Immunomodulation: MSCs possess robust immunomodulatory properties, which can be harnessed through intravenous delivery. By interacting with various immune cells, MSCs can regulate the immune response, reducing inflammation and promoting tissue repair. This immunomodulatory effect can be beneficial in treating autoimmune disorders, chronic inflammatory conditions, and other diseases characterized by an overactive immune response.
  3. Enhanced tissue repair and regeneration: The intravenous delivery of MSCs can stimulate tissue repair and regeneration in various body parts. MSCs secrete a wide range of growth factors and cytokines that promote the formation of new blood vessels, modulate the local cellular environment, and enhance the body's natural healing process. These factors can contribute to the repair of damaged tissue, the regeneration of injured organs, and the overall improvement of the patient's health.
  4. Minimally invasive procedure: Compared to other stem cell delivery methods, intravenous infusion is less invasive and generally associated with fewer complications. The process typically involves a direct injection into a vein, which can be easily performed in a clinical setting. This minimally invasive approach allows for a faster recovery time and reduces the risk of infection or other adverse events.
  5. Potential for treating a wide range of conditions: The systemic nature of intravenous stem cell delivery makes it suitable for addressing various medical needs, including neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disorders, autoimmune diseases, and orthopedic conditions, among others. MSCs delivered intravenously can improve the patient's health and well-being by targeting multiple affected areas and modulating the immune response.

Higher Bioavailability

Intravenous delivery of cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CT-MSCs) offers higher bioavailability than direct injections. This is because the stem cells can circulate throughout the body, reaching the affected area more effectively. As a result, the healing process may be more efficient, leading to better pain relief and improved tissue regeneration.

Systemic Effects

Another advantage of intravenous stem cell delivery is its systemic effect. CT-MSCs can migrate to multiple areas of the body, addressing the primary site of back pain and any secondary sites contributing to the discomfort. This comprehensive approach may lead to more effective treatment options for patients with chronic back pain or multiple pain conditions.

Minimally Invasive

Intravenous stem cell delivery is minimally invasive compared to intradiscal or BMAC injections. It involves inserting a needle into a vein, eliminating the need for more invasive procedures like disc or bone marrow aspiration. This minimally invasive nature can reduce the risk of complications and shorten recovery time for patients undergoing stem cell therapy for back pain.


Cord Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CT-MSCs) have emerged as a promising source for regenerative medicine due to their superior potency compared to bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs). Several factors contribute to the enhanced regenerative therapy potential of CT-MSCs:

  1. Higher proliferation rate: CT-MSCs exhibit a faster proliferation rate than BM-MSCs, allowing for producing a more significant number of cells in a shorter period (Wang et al., 2018). This increased expansion capacity is particularly advantageous for cell-based therapies requiring large MSCs.
  2. Greater differentiation potential: Studies have shown that CT-MSCs possess a more extensive differentiation potential than BM-MSCs (Batsali et al., 2013). They can differentiate into specialized cell types, including osteocytes, chondrocytes, adipocytes, and neural cells. This broader differentiation capacity enables CT-MSCs to regenerate a more comprehensive range of tissues and organs.
  3. Immunomodulatory properties: CT-MSCs display robust immunomodulatory properties, which can contribute to their therapeutic potential (Silini et al., 2017). They can modulate the immune response by suppressing inflammation and promoting tissue repair, providing a favorable environment for tissue regeneration.
  4. Angiogenic potential: CT-MSCs secrete higher levels of proangiogenic factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), compared to BM-MSCs (Li et al., 2016). These factors promote the formation of new blood vessels, which can facilitate tissue repair and regeneration.
  5. Lower risk of donor-related complications: CT-MSCs carry a lower risk of donor-related complications than BM-MSCs. The collection of cord tissue is non-invasive and poses no threat to the mother or the newborn, whereas bone marrow aspiration can be painful and may lead to complications in some cases (Romanov et al., 2014).

Regenerative Properties

CT-MSCs have demonstrated remarkable regenerative properties, which can particularly benefit back pain treatment. These stem cells can differentiate into specialized cells, such as chondrocytes and osteoblasts, that can help rebuild damaged tissue in the intervertebral discs.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Inflammation significantly contributes to back pain, particularly in degenerative disc disease. CT-MSCs possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can help alleviate pain and improve overall function. By modulating the immune response and suppressing inflammation, these stem cells can promote a more favorable environment for tissue regeneration.

Growth Factors and Tissue Repair

CT-MSCs secrete various growth factors and cytokines, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), which play crucial roles in tissue repair and regeneration. These growth factors stimulate the proliferation and differentiation of resident cells, attracting other cells to the site of injury and promoting the formation of new blood vessels. This enhanced healing response can lead to improved disc regeneration and pain relief.

patient speaking with stem cell physician

Comparing Stem Cell Delivery Methods

The efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy in treating back pain is influenced by both the source of the stem cells and the delivery method. Two prevalent delivery methods for MSCs are intradiscal injections and intravenous infusions. While both methods have shown promise in alleviating back pain, intravenous infusions may provide broader benefits and improve the overall quality of life more effectively than intradiscal injections.

Intradiscal Injections

Intradiscal injections directly deliver MSCs into the intervertebral disc space, targeting the affected area. This localized approach can effectively treat specific disc-related issues, such as degenerative disc disease or herniated discs. Intradiscal injections aim to repair damaged disc tissue, restore disc height, and relieve pain.

However, the effects of intradiscal injections are primarily limited to the targeted area. While this method can help address localized low back pain only, it may not be as effective in providing systemic benefits or addressing other underlying health issues contributing to the patient's overall discomfort.

Intravenous Infusions

Intravenous infusions involve the systemic delivery of MSCs through the bloodstream, allowing the cells to reach various parts of the human body. This method has several advantages over intradiscal injections:

  1. Systemic effects: Intravenous MSC infusions can provide systemic benefits, addressing the specific area of back pain and other potential health issues contributing to the patient's discomfort. This holistic approach can lead to a more comprehensive improvement in the patient's overall well-being.
  2. Immunomodulation: MSCs delivered intravenously can modulate the immune system, reducing inflammation. This immunomodulatory effect can contribute to an overall improvement in the patient's health and potentially reduce pain in multiple areas.
  3. Enhanced tissue repair: Intravenous delivery of MSCs can promote tissue repair in various body regions, not just the localized area of back pain. This broader regenerative effect can improve overall recovery and long-term pain relief.
  4. Minimally invasive: Intravenous infusions are less invasive than intradiscal injections, which require the precise placement of the MSCs into the affected disc space. Intravenous infusions are generally associated with fewer complications and a faster recovery time.

Patient treatment goals should guide the administration method

While intradiscal injections and intravenous infusions of mesenchymal stem cells can effectively treat back pain, intravenous infusions may provide broader benefits and improve the overall quality of life. By offering systemic effects, immunomodulation, enhanced tissue repair, and a minimally invasive procedure, intravenous infusions of MSCs can revolutionize the treatment of back pain and improve patients' overall well-being.


Platelet Rich Plasma Injections

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are another treatment option for back pain. PRP contains growth factor-rich platelets that can stimulate the body's natural healing process. However, due to the absence of stem cells, PRP injections may not provide the same regenerative potential as umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CT-MSCs).

Clinical Trials and Success Rates

Clinical trials investigating the use of CT-MSCs for back pain treatment have shown promising results. Studies have demonstrated significant improvements in pain relief and function in patients undergoing stem cell treatment for degenerative disc disease. While further research is needed to establish this treatment's long-term efficacy and safety, these findings suggest that intravenous delivery of CT-MSCs may offer a superior option for specific applications.

Risks and Considerations

Despite the potential benefits of intravenous stem cell treatment for back pain, there are some risks and considerations to consider. As with any medical treatment, side effects or complications are possible, such as infection or allergic reactions. Additionally, not all patients may be suitable candidates for stem cell therapy, and the effectiveness of the treatment may vary depending on the individual's condition and medical history. Patients must consult with their healthcare provider to discuss stem cell treatment's potential risks and benefits and determine if it is the right treatment option for their specific needs.


In conclusion, stem cell therapy for back pain, mainly using cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells delivered intravenously, presents a promising and innovative approach to regenerative medicine. The advantages of cord tissue-derived MSCs, such as their superior potency, broader differentiation capacity, and lower risk of donor-related complications, make them an attractive option for therapeutic applications.

Furthermore, the systemic benefits of intravenous MSC delivery, including immunomodulation, enhanced tissue repair, and minimally invasive procedures, offer a comprehensive solution for patients suffering from back pain and other related health issues. As research advances and clinical trials continue to explore the full potential of MSC therapy in treating various medical conditions, intravenous delivery of cord tissue-derived MSCs holds significant promise in revolutionizing pain management and improving patients' overall quality of life.


What is the main advantage of using cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells over other stem cells?

Cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells have a high proliferation rate, immunomodulatory properties, and the ability to secrete growth factors, making them particularly suitable for regenerative medicine applications.

How does intravenous stem cell therapy differ from traditional treatments for back pain?

Intravenous stem cell therapy promotes tissue regeneration and reduces inflammation, addressing the root cause of back pain rather than merely providing temporary relief.

Are there any risks associated with intravenous stem cell therapy?

As with any medical treatment, there are potential risks and complications, such as infection or allergic reactions to other medications. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss stem cell therapy's potential risks and benefits.

Is stem cell therapy a viable option for all patients with back pain?

Not all patients may be suitable candidates for stem cell therapy, and the effectiveness of the treatment of stem cell therapies may vary depending on the individual's condition and medical history. It is crucial to consult a healthcare provider to determine if stem cell therapy is the right option for a specific case.

What is the current status of clinical trials on intravenous stem cell therapy for back pain?

Clinical trials investigating cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells for back pain treatment have shown promising results, significantly improving pain relief and function. However, further research is needed to establish this treatment's long-term efficacy and safety.


(1) Batsali, A. K., Kastrinaki, M. C., Papadaki, H. A., & Pontikoglou, C. (2013). Mesenchymal stem cells derived from Wharton's Jelly of the umbilical cord: biological properties and emerging clinical applications. Current Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 8(2), 144-155.

(2) Li, X., Bai, J., Ji, X., Li, R., Xuan, Y., & Wang, Y. (2016). Comprehensive characterization of four different populations of human mesenchymal stem cells as regards their immune properties, proliferation, and differentiation. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 38(3), 695-704.

(3) Romanov, Y. A., Darevskaya, A. N., Merzlikina, N. V., & Buravkova, L. B. (2014). Mesenchymal stem cells from human umbilical cord tissue: cultivation and characterization. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 157(4), 455-459.

(4) Silini, A. R., Cargnoni, A., Magatti, M., Pianta, S., & Parolini, O. (2017). The long path of human placenta, and its derivatives, in regenerative medicine. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 5, 70.

(5) Wang, H. S., Hung, S. C., Peng, S. T., Huang, C. C., Wei, H. M., Guo, Y. J., ... & Chang, Y. J. (2004). Mesenchymal stem cells in the Wharton's jelly of the human umbilical cord. Stem Cells, 22(7), 1330-1337.

(6) Wang, S., Mundada, L., Colomb, E., Ohye, R. G., & Si, M. S. (2018). Comparison of the proliferation and differentiation potential of the human umbilical cord and placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Cellular Reprogramming, 20(5), 255-262.

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