Background: Chronic low back pain is one of the major causes of disability and thus has a major socioeconomic impact. Intervertebral disc degeneration is the main cause of chronic low back pain. Treatment for chronic discogenic low back pain has traditionally been limited to either conservative management or surgical fusion. If conservative treatment fails, then surgical fusion is commonly considered. Current treatments are limited to treat the symptoms and not the underlying biologic alterations of the disc.
Objective: Human umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (HUC-MSCs) contain stem cells and possess the ability to regenerate degenerative discs. Based on the results of previous in vitro and animal experiments, we conducted a preliminary study to test the feasibility and safety and to obtain an early indication for the therapeutic value of HUC-MSC transplantation in patients with chronic discogenic low back pain.
Study design: This is the first study involving treatment of chronic low back pain using HUC-MSC transplantation.
Setting: The study was performed at a spine center in China.
Methods: Two patients with chronic discogenic low back pain were treated with HUC-MSC transplantation. An 11-point visual analog scale (VAS, 0-10) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI, 0-100) were used to assess the back pain symptoms and the lumbar function, respectively.
Results: After transplantation, the pain and function improved immediately in the 2 patients. The VAS and ODI scores decreased obviously during a 2-year follow-up period.
Limitations: The shortcoming of this study is that it is a preliminary study with only 2 patients.
Conclusion: The clinical outcomes indicated that HUC-MSC transplantation is a favorable alternative method for the treatment of chronic discogenic low back pain.