Wouldn’t it be great if tissue injuries could be repaired without surgery?
Achilles tendon is the connective tissue that joins the muscles at the back of the leg to the heels. Swelling and pain in the Achilles tendon is known as Achilles tendinitis.Stem Cells for Achilles Tendonitis
In younger individuals, Achilles tendinitis is mostly caused by the overuse of the foot, such as while running, jumping and other physical activities. Running on hard surfaces, running without warming up, running with improper shoes—may all contribute to Achilles tendinitis. Rarely, this condition is caused by injury to the area. In older people, Achilles tendinitis may be a result of arthritis.
Stem cells hold the potential to differentiate into specialized cells, such as bone, cartilage, tendon, nerve, blood, brain, or muscle. Although adult stem cells do not differentiate into as many different types of tissues as embryonic stem cells, adult stem cell usage is less controversial from ethical perspectives.
Amniotic derived stem cell injections may also be used to successfully treat patients with Achilles tendinitis. These stem cells are derived from the amniotic sac (not an embryo), and hence raises no moral concerns. Moreover, amniotic fluid is a rich supply of stem cells, and therefore is preferred over adult stem cells in some cases.
Ankle & Foot Arthritis
Ankle and foot arthritis involves inflammation in the associated joints. The symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness in and near the joints. Arthritis can be acute or chronic in nature. Over time, arthritis involves the loss of cartilage in the joints, leading to reduced joint mobility and even joint deformity. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis that occurs in older people due to natural wear and tear.
Recent advancement of medical technology has allowed doctors to use stem cell injections to treat various foot and ankle conditions, including arthritis. Injuries and degenerative conditions that would not have previously healed quickly, can now be tackled more effectively using these cutting-edge applications.
The regenerative quality of stem cells along with its safety of use makes it particularly desirable for foot and ankle arthritis management. Mesenchymal stem cells, which are responsible for forming ligaments, tendons, bones and cartilage, are obtained from a simple harvest procedure. In addition, amniotic derived stem cells obtained from the amniotic sac can also be used for the same purpose.
Ankle sprain is a common injury caused by the stretch or tear of ligament. Ligaments, fibrous tissues that serve as connections between bones, are important structures for joint stability. Sprained ankles are reported in greater than 23,000 people each day in the US.
Although most ankle sprains get better without further complications, some cases may require surgery. For these types of difficult sprains, stem cell therapy may be considered along with surgery to enhance the speed and quality of recovery.
By using the body’s own adult stem cells, doctors can now promote repair and regeneration at the sites of injury and damage. The process involves the extraction of stem cells from the bone marrow, usually at the back hip iliac bone area, with the help of a needle.
This is an outpatient procedure undergone through X-ray or ultrasound guidance. The process is not painful and is generally well-tolerated. The extracted bone marrow is then concentrated in the laboratory to enrich for stem cells.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a supporting tissue that connects the heel bone to the toe and runs across the bottom of the feet. This condition results from the injury or overuse of the foot, leading to the stretching and wearing out of the fascia. Typical symptoms of plantar fasciitis include stabbing pain and stiffness towards the heel, especially experienced in the morning or after long periods of sitting or standing.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has shown promising results in healing chronic plantar fasciitis. PRP works by releasing various healing factors as well as recruiting stem cells to the site of damage to promote tissue regeneration. PRP is obtained from the patient’s blood sample, after concentrating out the platelets. Platelets are known to aggregate at sites of injury, and lead to hemostasis, the formation of new connective tissue and revascularization.
Another promising approach for chronic plantar fasciitis is the use of stem cell therapy. Stem cells are primitive cells that can undergo differentiation to form different types of cells in the body, such as bone, blood, cartilage, tendon, ligaments, etc. These cells are responsible for healing tissue damages by generating new healthy cells. However, with age, the body loses its ability to attract enough stem cells to the site of injury. In this regard, stem cell therapy delivers a high concentration of stem cells to the affected area to promote natural healing.