More than 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain worldwide, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Many of those people turn to pain medications or expensive surgeries to try and get relief, but now some doctors are saying a new minimally invasive procedure can do the trick.
It’s called stem cell injections.
Ashleigh Leege got the procedure done about a year ago.
Now, she is playing with her kids, something she couldn’t do before.
“I couldn’t do much of anything and as you know when a mom is out, the whole family is out,” Leege said.
For most of her life, Leege has dealt with pain from a degenerative disk in her spine.
“Bone was touching bone, and that’s why I was in so much pain,” Leege said.
At first, she tried to fight through it.
“So what do you do,” Leege said. “I’m a mother of two and very active, so you do what everybody does and just take pain meds.”
This is something she wasn’t happy about.
“Popping pain pills is something I cannot stand to do,” she said.
That’s why she started looking for other solutions.
Her search led her to Med-Rebels, where a doctor told her about stem cell injections. The procedure takes stem cells from your own body and places them in an area of injury or pain.
“When we do one of these cases, the cells do their thing in the location where the injury is and people are getting recovery,” Dr. Dane C. Pohlman of Pain Specialists of Austin said.
This is something Leege desperately wanted, so she made an appointment.
“So what they said was we’re going to basically take your stem cells out of your lower back area bone and we’re then going to inject them between the L4 and L5 and hopefully we’re going to rebuild cartilage,” Leege said.
The next day, she was on the operating table.
The whole procedure took about 45 minutes and just hours after it was over she noticed a difference in her pain level.
“I could feel the tenderness of the procedure, but not the back pain,” she said.
The pain stayed away for seven months, until one day she felt it returning.
A clinical study on the injections from the International Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology shows that it is possible for this to happen. Two out of 26 people surveyed with similar back pain had to come back for a second round.
“I was in denial for a few days, because I was thinking this isn’t happening,” Leege said.
She called her doctor again and made another appointment for the stem cell injections. Just like the first time, her second procedure went well.
It’s now been five months and again she’s pain free without medications. She hopes the feeling is here to stay.
“It totally changed my life and by the way, it changed my kids’ life,”Leege said.
Stem cell injections typically cost between four to six thousand dollars. Insurance does not cover the procedure, but MedRebels can finance.