Source: Certified Foot and Ankle Specialist; Written by Dr. Kyle J Kinmon
State-of-the-art medical treatments, such as stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP), have become popular non-surgical options for the treatment of sports injuries, accidents, overuse, heredity or problems associated with an aging body, as well as degenerative arthritis, tendon and ligament damage.
Platelets are small cells in the blood that help form clots to stop bleeding, and platelet-rich plasma is the patient’s own concentrated platelets. PRP is a growth factor that promotes the healing of bones, cartilage, blood vessels, tendons and tissue, and is becoming more and more popular when treating foot and ankle injuries. PRP creates actual healing because it contains three to five times the concentration of growth factors compared to normal human blood.
When you come to Central Texas Foot Specialists, we will first collect a blood sample from a selected part of the body to acquire the powerful stem cells that promote healing. These stem cells are then injected into the injured area of the foot or ankle, where they replicate and flourish. The magic happens when the surrounding cells begin to mimic the stem cells, making healing possible and producing an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce pain. Stem cell injections also contain hyaluronic acid, which lubricates joints and tendons, easing pain and helping to restore mobility. Most patients agree that the entire process is virtually pain free.
Regenerative medicine is an exciting new area of clinical practice that focuses on the natural healing of chronically injured tissues that have become unable to heal themselves. This is accomplished by either replacing damaged, non-functional tissue with healthy cells or organs, or by stimulating the body’s own tissues to regenerate and repair themselves through the introduction of active biochemical messengers (growth factors) and scaffoldings.
Degeneration, or wear and tear, of normal daily activities results in micro injuries to our tissues, especially in weight bearing joints (foot and ankle arthritis) and lower extremity tendons (Achilles Tendinitis) and ligaments (plantar fasciitis). When we are young, the microtrauma from running or tennis, for example, is rapidly repaired by our body’s own defense mechanisms. But as we age, our ability to heal is diminished. Our cells become dormant and lose the ability to divide, and scar tissue forms instead of healthy tissue. Coupled with the fact that we are living longer, this becomes a big problem, especially if we want to remain active.
As foot and ankle specialists, our team sees chronic problems such as achilles tendon pain, plantar fasciitis or heel pain, peroneal tendon and posterior tibial tendon pain, anterior tibial tendon pain, foot and ankle arthritis, painful ankle sprains, peripheral neuropathy, and other conditions on a daily basis.
Before regenerative medicine or stem cell therapy (stem cell injections) became available, there was often no good conservative treatment option available. Surgery was often required. Now, in many cases these problems can be treated without drugs, cortisone or surgery!