When You Shouldn’t Ignore Back Pain


Back pain is something that most people experience at one point or another. However, there’s a difference between pain that signals some kind of larger issue and regular pain that will go away. But how do you tell the difference and when should you see a doctor and possibly consult a surgeon? Here are some symptoms of bad back problems that you should really not ignore:

  1. When you experience tingling or numbness – While this one could literally occur because you’ve been sitting too long, there are a number of other causes that are less appealing. For instance, numbness and tingling could be caused by a herniated disc, a trapped nerve, diabetes or even multiple sclerosis. If you think you’ve been sitting too long, see if standing and exercising properly helps your back; if not see a doctor.
  2. When you injure yourself and your back hurts – If you’ve recently had an accident or lifted something that was too heavy, it can seriously harm your back. Chances are, you would have begun to notice problems immediately after said incident. If they seem connected, you’ll need to see a professional to ascertain the amount of damage to your back and how best to treat it, which will really depend on where and how you injured yourself.
  3. When the pain doesn’t go away – Back pain that goes away and stays away with the proper rest and bodily care is usually not a problem. However, if you are taking care of yourself (eating right, exercising, sleeping correctly, sitting correctly at work, not lifting heavy objects, not smoking, etc.) and your back still hurts, then there could be a larger problem at work. Consult a doctor to determine whether your back is even the problem or whether it’s a symptom of something else.
  4. When the pain is coupled with other serious symptoms – Back pain by itself can be scary enough. Back pain coupled with fever, unnatural and unintentional weight loss, problems urinating, weakness, and leg numbness could indicate a severe and immediately threatening problem – anything from a serious infection to paralyzed nerves that could cause permanent disabilities if left too long. In any of these cases, don’t wait! Consult an expert immediately to ensure that your symptoms don’t worsen and incapacitate you.

These are just some of the more serious back pain symptoms that should send you straight to surgeons like J. Kevin Kaufman. Have you experienced any other symptoms?


Stem Cells (Part 1)

What Are Stem Cells?

Before we can delve into the research and potential of stem cells, it’s important to first understand what they are and how they function.

Stem cells exist inside all of us and they are what we are originally created from.  Stem cells are their own unique cell which continues to divide and grow while the person or animal is living.  When a stem cell divides the two new cells can remain stem cells or they can turn into different cells with specialized functions, such as a muscle cell or red blood cell.  In this way stem cells are like a universal remote, they can be used to make any other type of cell needed by the animal or person.

Stem cells are remarkable because of the ability to keep renewing themselves through cell division even after long periods of inactivity, sometimes.  Under certain conditions these cells can be induced to become specific parts for a body such as organ specific tissues or tissue.  This happens regularly in our bone marrow where cells are dividing regularly to replace and repair wear and tear.  However, as J Kevin Kaufman points out, some organs only have stem cells which divide to become new functioning cells for that organ under special conditions, for example the heart and brain.

So the three properties which make stem cells unique are their ability to renew and divide for extended periods of time, unspecialized, and capable of turning into other specialized cell types.

Different Kinds of Stem Cells

There are different kinds of stem cells, but for the most part a majority of stem cell research has been conducted using embryonic stem cells.  The other kind of stem cell is called the “somatic or “adult” stem cell.  In 1981 scientists learned to extract embryo stem cells from mice.  After 17 years of research, scientists learned how to derive human embryonic stem cells.  The human embryonic stem cells were created from in vitro fertilization and were only used for research when they were no longer needed and donors gave consent.

Fortunately, scientists had a breakthrough in 2006 when they discovered somatic stem cells could be engineered to genetically assume a stem cell-like state; these cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Being Born

Embryos which are 3-5 days old are called blastocyst and it is within these which embryonic stem cells generate the entire body of an organism.  This early period of pregnancy is when the stem cells are induced into generating the many different special cells needed for vital organs and skeletal structure for the organism, such as the lungs, heart, skin, bones and so on.

Be sure to check back soon as we begin discussing the cell based therapies for treating diseases and the discoveries unveiled from research on stem cells.