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Can a Same Day Stem Cell Procedure Reduce Disc Bulge Size?

POSTED ON IN Back and Neck Procedure Outcomes Back/lumbar Latest News Regenexx-SD BY Chris Centeno


We’ve been impressed with using stem cell injections in the right kind of discs. While most patients believe that there is only one type of disc issue, there seems to be no end to the number of physicians willing to inject stem cells into discs. However, we’ve been more selective. Why? Eleven years of experience injecting stem cells into low-back discs have taught us that this is a great tool when it’s applied to the right kind of discs and a waste of money when it’s applied to the wrong type. This morning I’d like to review a patient of Dr. Pitts, who has the right type of disc, and go over some important changes in the problem disc.

What Is the Right Kind of Disc for Stem Cell Injections, and When Is It a Waste of Money?

 A while back I created a video that helps patients understand the four major types of low-back discs and which will respond to stem cells. The basic idea is that for a disc to be a good candidate for stem cell injections, it has to have good disc height and either a painful tear or a bulge pressing on a nerve. However, if the disc has poor disc height (is collapsed or bone on bone) or a herniation, then there are better technologies to help the problem.

An Example of a Good Disc Stem Cell Candidate

Tracey is an active middle-aged woman with a disc tear and bulge that had persisted for two years. She had tried and failed physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. Tracy got only temporary relief from low-back epidural steroid injections, an SI joint injection, and a radiofrequency ablation of her facet joints. Dr. Pitts initially tried using our 4th-generation platelet lysate procedure by injecting this into the ligaments, joints, and epidural, but she didn’t note that much relief. Hence, he became more convinced that her remaining pain was related to the L5–S1 disc. So in March of this past year, he performed a same-day stem cell procedure, precisely injecting her cells into the L5–S1 disc using fluoroscopic guidance.

Her MRIs are above, taken before the procedure (on the left) and then about seven months after (on the right). Notice the disc bulge in the yellow-dashed line that’s there before and then not there or smaller after the procedure. Also, note that this was a long-standing bulge that wasn’t resolving on its own, so it’s likely that these changes were caused by the injection. She also noted about 75–80% resolution of her low-back and other symptoms.

The upshot? Low-back discs, when they’re carefully selected, can respond well to expert same-day stem cell treatment. However, we see all too often that treatment is offered to any patient with a disc issue and the money to pay for the treatment. Tracey is an excellent example of a patient who needed stem cells injected into her disc to recover!


    *DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.
    Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.


    Wirt T. Maxey says

    "However, if the disc has poor disc height (is collapsed or bone on bone) or has a herniation, then there are better technologies to help the problem."

    What are the "better technologies" ?


    Chris Centeno says


    Injecting the disc itself is only appropriate in a specific set of circumstances. As in all of Regenerative medicine, using the right type of treatment for the problem is key. For Herniations it’s usually best to stick with a technology that doesn’t inject the disc, but instead instills isolated growth factors around the irritated nerve. This is called platelet lysate, administered in an epidural injection around the nerves. The focus is to ramp up your body’s own natural repair mechanisms, which can get rid of the herniated disc. Degenerated Discs don't respond to any type of stem cell injection into the disc. However, in our experience it can respond to a treatment protocol focused on platelet and/or stem cell technology deployed to treat sloppy disc movement due to lax ligaments and arthritic facet joints. Please see: and


    stef says

    Wow ! I have been reading dc centeno's blog for a while and i don't recall any references that an epidural could help regenerate a herniated disc. That is a bold statement. Having had a few of those myself, i always wonder if the patelet lysate stick around the nerve, why not inject it directly at the disc ? That should help. Beside there is plenty in the syringe. But how the patelet lysate flotting around the nerve affect the disc to the point it would help regenerate, outside the contact point between the two, that is worth a blog...


    Chris Centeno says


    The procedure highlighted here is a stem cell procedure in which the stem cells are injected directly into a bulging disc with a tear, rather than a platelet lysate procedure in which we treat the nerves, facet joints, ligaments or epidural space. .


    Pam says

    I appreciate the information and the integrity of your company. Best to the Regenexx crew!


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    About the Author

    Chris Centeno

    Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…

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