HEALTH MATTERS: Stem Cells Helping Patients to Avoid Surgery

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Baptist Health Spine Center is helping patients with back issues avoid surgery.

Kristin Schumacher says years of neck pain has limited daily activities,  like driving.

"You don't think about it, but turning to look at your blind spots caused so much pain," said Schumacher. 

In 2012, a doctor found a tear in Kristin's neck and believes it could be related to a past cheerleading accident.

"I've had neck pain for 7 years. I've gone through two failed neck surgeries."

The 37-year-old also took medication,  which didn't help either. But now she says her quality of life has  improved about 30 percent thanks to a stem cell injection.

"We're trying to guide things to where we don't just jump to surgery right away," said Dr. Derek Buck, Interventional Spine Doctor. 

Dr. Buck says about 90 percent of people with back issues could avoid surgery thanks to the new advancements. Buck says stem cells are the newest thing on the market.

"If I tore a muscle in my arm and I injected stem cell where the damage is, those cells are going to look around and say oh, we need more muscle tissue, and they will actually start turning into that tissue," said Dr. Buck. 

Just when Kristin was starting to lose hope, a stem cell injection turned things around in ways she thought wouldn't be possible.

Stem cell is minimally invasive.

Treatment options at the Baptist Health Spine Center also include joint ablations, epidurals,  nerve root blocks and fracture repair.

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