Ask a Podiatrist: What is Stem Cell Therapy?

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We’ve written before about the innovations in regenerative medicine, a family of techniques that rely on harvested human tissue to accelerate healing and recovery. The most recognized of these is Stem Cell Therapy, due to the publicity it has garnered in the treatment of athletes since 2011. That year, both MLB pitcher Bartolo Colon, and NFL quarterback Peyton Manning underwent stem cell treatment for chronic pain. Since then, professional athletes in all major sports have applied included stem cell therapy as part of their rehabilitation process, either in conjunction with, or in place of surgery.

While stem cell therapy was once only accessible to highly-paid athletes, it has made its way into many types of medical practice, including podiatry.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide (through mitosis) to produce more stem cells. Embryonic stem cells carry the innate ability to become any type of cell in the body. Adult stem cells are found in certain types of tissue, and are narrowed in their capacity to transform into other cells.

Stem cell therapy introduces stem cells into an area of the body that is damaged or healing. A stem cell’s ability to grow new tissue is especially useful in patients suffering from ligament, tendon or joint injuries. Because stem cells are already naturally occurring in the human body, the healing process is natural but accelerated.

Stem Cell Therapy in Podiatry

With the aid of advanced ultrasound-guided techniques, stem cells can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and sports injuries.

At Houston Foot and Ankle Care, we are using stem cell therapy in the treatment of foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis (also known as Achilles Tendinopathy), arthritis, soft tissue damage, chronic ankle sprains and more.

When injected into the injured part of the foot or ankle, stem cells work to repair the damaged tissues and tendons in two ways. They immediately begin to replicate themselves, differentiating into the types of cells needed to repair damaged tissue. In addition to that direct response, they also trigger nearby cells to do the same. This promotes rapid healing and reduces inflammation quickly.

Stem cell therapy is a preferred treatment option for injuries where platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections cannot be used.

Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy

  • Safe and Effective – Because stem cells are human cells, usually from the patient’s own body, treatment is very safe. This also increases the likelihood of success in the regenerative healing process.
  • Non-Destructive – Unlike steroid injections, which may cause deterioration of the cartilage in your joints, there is no cartilage loss in stem cell therapy. In fact, cartilage can be regenerated in many cases.
  • Treats the Cause, Not just the Symptoms – Stem cell therapy is proven to heal the actual injury. In other words, it addresses the root cause of the pain, thereby promoting healing. This improvement can help patients recover without requiring surgery.
  • Pain-Free – Stem cell therapy requires only injections – no painful incisions are necessary.
  • Clinically Proven – The success rate in stem cell therapy is remarkable. Many patients with severe foot and ankle injuries experience full, rapid healing. This is a great option if you are suffering from chronic pain but desire a non-surgical approach.

If you’re interested in learning more about the regenerative procedures available for treating foot and ankle pain, including stem cell therapy, give us a call at (713) 541-3199. At your visit, Dr. Maislos will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis, and go over a treatment protocol that is tailored to you. Pain is not normal, and many conditions can escalate and cause further damage if not treated quickly and effectively.

Call (713) 541-3199 if you experience:

  • chronic foot or ankle pain
  • joint pain or immobilization
  • lack of progress with conventional treatments
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Houston Foot and Ankle