Stem cell therapy in discogenic back pain
Chronic low back pain has both substantial social and economic impacts on patients and healthcare budgets. Adding to the magnitude of the problem is the difficulty in identifying the exact causes of disc degeneration with modern day diagnostic and imaging techniques. With that said, current non- operative and surgical treatment modalities for discogenic low back pain fails to meet the expectations in many patients and hence the challenge. The objective for newly emerging stem cell regenerative therapy is to treat degenerative disc disease (DDD) by restoring the disc’s cellularity and modulating the inflammatory response. Appropriate patient selection is crucial for the success of stem cell therapy. Regenerative modalities for discogenic pain currently focus on the use of either primary cells harvested from the intervertebral discs or stem cells from other sources whether autogenic or allogenic. The microenvironment in which stem cells are being cultured has been recognized to play a crucial role in directing or maintaining the production of the desired phenotypes and may enhance their regenerative potential. This has led to a more specific focus on innovating more effective culturing techniques, delivery vehicles and scaffolds for stem cell application. Although stem cell therapy might offer an attractive alternative treatment option, more clinical studies are still needed to establish on the safety and feasibility of such therapy. In this literature review, we aim to present the most recent in vivo and in vitro studies related to the use of stem cell therapy in the treatment of discogenic low back pain.