What are two of the newest and most promising treatments in pain management?
First, there is Dorsal Spinal Cord Stimulation (DSCS). What’s great about living in this decade is that DSCS is now more effective and safer than ever before. The reason for that is the introduction of High Frequency (HF) DSCS within the last three years. With HF DSCS, we can achieve 70 to 80% average pain relief for both chronic low back pain and chronic leg pain. More traditional devices use low frequency stimulation, which provides less than 40% average relief of low back pain. Furthermore, when the HF DSCS device is on, it does not cause any persistent tingling in the back or the limbs, unlike the older devices. Finally, it is safe to drive with the HF device on, another big advantage over the traditional devices.
Secondly, Spine medicine and Regenerative medicine (sometimes called Biologics) have merged together in the last five years to create one of the most promising and radical new treatments – Intra-discal Stem Cell Therapy (ISCT). ISCT involves the injection of stem cells into injured or degenerating painful intervertebral discs in order to provide relief of chronic low back pain. The stem cells can come from the patients themselves via bone marrow aspiration, or from an external lab harvesting them. Two year outcome studies of ISCT are showing 60-70% average relief of chronic low back pain – results far better than the average 45% pain relief provided by Spinal Fusion Surgery. Pain relief from ISCT usually sets in within 1-2 months of the injection and the pain relief is holding at least two years so far. Longer outcome studies are pending. The procedure uses needles and does NOT involve surgery. Finally, the cost for ISCT is only a small fraction of the cost of Spinal Fusion Surgery. With efficacy and features like this, ISCT is quickly becoming the preferred treatment of discogenic low back pain.