Updated January 2021
Stem Cell Treatment for Nerve Damage: Does it Work?
Nerve damage can have a devastating effect on a person’s quality of life. Some types of nerve damage cause significant pain, while others have the opposite effect, making it hard to feel any sensations at all. It can be frustrating for patients to deal with these symptoms, especially since effective treatment options may seem few and far between. If you have nerve damage, hearing about stem cell treatment can understandably be very exciting. Is this type of nerve regeneration therapy effective?
Is Stem Cell Therapy Effective for Nerve Regeneration?
Stem cell treatment for nerve damage shows great promise, and it offers significant benefits compared to other, more traditional treatments such as surgery. Studies show that it can reduce the total damage to peripheral nerves and improving tissue regeneration. In some cases, but not all, this treatment may restore complete functional recovery.
However, the question many patients really want an answer to is whether stem cell therapy will work for them personally. That question is difficult to answer for four main reasons:
- There are many different kinds of chronic damage
- New damage may be easier to repair than existing damage
- Every patient’s health situation is unique
- The field of nerve regeneration is relatively new
In other words, while there are solid scientific reasons to be excited about the potential of stem cells for treating nerve damage, it’s still too early to promise its effectiveness in every case. Some patients may experience amazing results, but everyone’s body and situation are different. Also, nerve damage and treatments of systemic diseases like Alzheimer’s are completely different than those for peripheral nerve damage caused by diabetes.
How Does Stem Cell Treatment for Nerve Damage Work?
Stem cell therapies focus on nerve regeneration. In this type of treatment, mesenchymal stem cells and Schwann cells are harvested from the patient’s own body. These MSCs and Schwann cells usually come from bone marrow and fatty tissue. Once ready, they’re injected at the site of damage. Stem cells can transform into virtually any kind of tissue, including new neurons and supportive cells that help the body produce additional neurons on its own.
Does Regenerative Therapy Work for All Nerve Damage?
There are many possible causes of damage to the nervous system. People with diabetes may experience numbness from neuropathy related to long-term levels of high blood sugar. Certain types of chemotherapy can have a toxic effect on healthy nervous tissue. There are also several viral conditions that can harm nerves, including herpes zoster. Finally, car accidents and other types of trauma often produce nerve damage.
In some cases, scientists don’t completely understand what is behind the sudden loss of neural tissue. For example, there are many unanswered questions about Alzheimer’s disease. In multiple sclerosis, nerve damage is caused by an autoimmune disease that attacks the patient’s nerve cells. In these cases, stem cell therapy may help to treat the symptoms and provide protection against continued damage, but it can’t treat the underlying cause.
Repairing nerve damage may be easier in certain types of neurons than others. This is because peripheral nerves — the part of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord – have the ability to regenerate naturally. Stem cell treatment may have a more noticeable effect on this type of nerve damage because it can work with and amplify the body’s own healing capabilities.
Where Can You Find Stem Cell Treatment for Nerve Damage?
Scientists continue investigating next-generation therapies for nerve regeneration. Investigators are involved in clinical treatments for spinal cord repair, nerve cell regrowth for trauma, neuroregeneration for stroke patients, and repair of peripheral nerve damage caused by diabetes. To discover what stem cell treatment options are available for you, contact the professional team at National Stem Cell Clinic for more information we have locations in both Houston, TX and Miami, FL. Discover answers to all of your questions about regenerative therapy.
Photo Credit: getty / By Chinnapong