According to the National Institute of Health, autoimmune diseases affect more than seven percent of the U.S. population. With more than 80 chronic illnesses classified as autoimmune diseases, these conditions can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat.
Fortunately, regenerative medicine has shown promising solutions for treating certain autoimmune diseases. Although autoimmune diseases cannot be cured, regenerative medicine can help many patients manage their symptoms and live life with limited sickness and pain.
What Is an Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your immune system mistakes your body as a foreign invader and attacks it. Your immune system is generally responsible for sending antibodies to attack germs, such as bacteria and viruses. When an autoimmune disease is present, your immune system can’t distinguish between foreign cells and your body’s own cells, causing chronic illness or pain.
In these cases, your immune system could mistakenly attack your joints, tissues, skin, organs, or other parts of the body. Some autoimmune diseases will attack only one specific part of the body, while others can affect the whole body. For example, Crohn’s disease damages the colon, while lupus affects the entire body.
Some of the most common autoimmune diseases include:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)
- Addison’s Disease
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Graves’ Disease
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Sjögren’s Syndrome
- Celiac Disease
- Pernicious Anemia
- Autoimmune Vasculitis
The symptoms that a patient experiences will depend on the autoimmune disease they have. Most autoimmune disease symptoms involve the inflammation of otherwise healthy tissue or organs, resulting in chronic pain, swelling, and redness. Symptoms may also include fatigue, numbness and tingling, hair loss, skin rashes, bloating, and more. These symptoms can come and go over time.
In cases of Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and various other conditions, certain foods can also cause symptoms to flare-up. Flare-ups occur when something triggers symptoms that are more intense than what the patient experiences day to day.
If you notice any of these symptoms over an extended period, it may be an indication that you have a type of autoimmune disease. Your primary care physician can refer you to a specialist who can then run tests and determine whether or not you do, in fact, have an autoimmune disease.
Unfortunately, there are no cures for autoimmune diseases, but there are treatment options that can manage symptoms to make the diseases more manageable.
Traditional Treatment Options for Autoimmune Diseases
Doctors are still researching the causes of autoimmune diseases. While the exact causes are still unknown, there are treatments (not cures) for many of these illnesses. In the United States, the costs of treating autoimmune disorders are around $100 billion each year. Treatment options vary based on the type of autoimmune disease.
Some autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease can be managed with certain diets and healthy lifestyles. However, most patients will know that symptoms are often too intense to manage with just lifestyle changes.
Many traditional treatment options for autoimmune diseases require anti-inflammatory or immune-suppressant medications. Some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help manage symptoms, but most patients will be prescribed strong anti-inflammatory medications to help.
Many patients will also be prescribed immune-suppressant medications, which are drugs that compromise the body’s immune system even further. These medications decrease the immune response of the disease; however, this lowers the body’s overall immunity, leaving the patient susceptible to infections and illnesses like the common cold or flu. While these medications may alleviate symptoms, they may affect other aspects of your health and life.
Regenerative Medicine as a Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases
Regenerative medicine is one of the more unknown methods of treating autoimmune diseases. Regenerative medicine professionals focus on researching treatments to better manage conditions that are typically managed with medications, including autoimmune disorders and the symptoms associated with them.
At Midwest Regenerative Health and Pain Clinic, we are busy using these innovative methods to help those in the Kansas City area manage their autoimmune diseases.
Stem Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Disease
Stem cell therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that has evolved a lot over the last five years. This treatment involves taking healthy stem cells that are rich with red blood cells from one part of the body and injecting them into a part of the body that is inflamed or injured. Stem cells do not necessarily replace other cells, but rather, change the response to injury, inflammation, or swelling in the affected part of the body.
Hematopoietic stem cell therapy (HSCT) is the treatment used in cases of autoimmune diseases. These stem cells are injected into the area of the body that is most affected by the disease. It is important to note that stem cell therapy, especially when treating autoimmune diseases, is still being researched, and clinical trials continue to be conducted. However, researchers and physicians see promising results in many patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune Diseases that Can Be Treated with Regenerative Medicine
Unfortunately, not every autoimmune disease has responded to stem cell treatment yet. For this reason, each patient must be assessed to determine whether they are appropriate candidate. Clinical trials, combined with our own experience, have shown promising results for various conditions.
Autoimmune conditions that been treated with stem cell therapy include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune hepatitis, myasthenia gravis, and Crohn’s disease.
Benefits of Regenerative Medicine Compared to Traditional Medicine
Regenerative medicine means that patients can use their own bodies to treat an affected area for longer-lasting results. A stem cell treatment option is particularly beneficial to autoimmune patients because their systems are painful and debilitating. Unlike traditional medications that further suppress a patient’s immune system, stem cell therapy can help preserve the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses.
While managing many autoimmune diseases takes a lot of effort and patience, stem cell therapy offers quick results. Regenerative medicine also provides pain-free treatments for patients with only local anesthesia and no downtime.
How Can MRHPC Help You?
If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you likely have tried various treatment options and pain management techniques. Stem cell therapy may be an option for you. At Midwest Regenerative Health and Pain Clinic, our physicians are dedicated to helping each patient create a treatment plan that works.
Our stem cell therapy process begins with an initial consultation with one of our physicians to assess each patient’s medical history and their overall health. After answering any questions and concerns, our doctors can create an individualized treatment plan that involves follow-up appointments to track recovery progress.
If you are interested in learning more about how stem cell therapy can help you manage your autoimmune disease, book an appointment with our team today.