Patients who suffer from ankle or feet injuries or illnesses may believe that their treatment will span weeks or months. They assume they must undergo invasive remedies like surgery or painful steroid injections.
However, podiatrists increasingly prefer to use stem cell therapies to treat people with ankle and feet conditions. Learn what stem cells are and in what manner they are used in podiatric medicine today.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are base cells that have the capability of growing into specialized cells. They are considered to be foundation material because of their potential to transform into specialized cells and their ability to adapt to bone, tissue, organs, and blood into which they are injected.
Stem cells come in two primary forms: embryonic and adult. Podiatrists tend to use adult stem cells more often because of their low rejection rate and accessibility in treating patients.
Doctors and scientists continue to perfect stem cell therapies in use today. Doctors increasingly prefer to use stem cell remedies when treating patients because these treatments are minimally or non-invasive, fast, and relatively painless.
People who receive stem cell treatments also recover faster and can get back to their normal lives sooner. They may still need to use crutches or wear casts even while receiving stem cell treatments until their podiatric injury or illness is fully healed.
Podiatric Stem Cell Therapy
Podiatrists harvest adult stem cells directly from patients’ bodies. The cells are taken from fat deposits in the thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and other locations deemed safe for harvesting.
The doctor will then create a concentrated amount of stem cells that will be injected directly into the area being treated. The injections are performed in a single day surgery center or outpatient surgical facility. Most patients can go home within a few hours after their stem cell treatment.
They also only need to rest a few days after the injections before they can return to their normal routines. It is important that they follow their doctor’s post-treatment instructions to ensure the proper healing of their podiatric illness or injury.
Adult stem cell therapy has proven effective for addressing podiatric conditions like:
- Ligament strains
- Achilles tendinosis
- Partial tendon tears
- Plantar fascitiis
- Arthritis in the ankle
This therapy has also shown promise in healing foot and ankle wounds caused by diseases like diabetes. The therapy eliminates the need for more invasive treatments like surgery and painful steroid injections into the muscles, tendons, or ligaments.
Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy in Podiatry
Podiatrists continue to prefer stem cell treatments for patients because these therapies are non-invasive, pain-free, and faster from which to heal. However, they also want to use stem cells when possible in treating ankle and foot conditions because they have a low rejection rate and are safer to use than other remedies like surgery or steroids.
Moreover, adult stem cells contain materials that encourage the healing and growth of new and healthy bone, ligaments, and tendons. For example, they naturally consist of a material called cytokine. Cytokines are natural anti-inflammatory agents and reduce the swelling in the foot or ankle afflicted by the injury or illness.
Likewise, adult stem cells contain hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is commonly used in cosmetic medical procedures like eyebrow lifts. However, when used in podiatric medicine, it lubricates and encourages the new growth of cartilage.
Stem cells additionally have what doctors refer to as growth factor. As the name implies, growth factor promotes the new creation of tissue in the ankle and feet and other areas being treated with stem cells.
Finally, podiatrists like to use stem cells harvested from a patient’s own body because they will not be rejected by the treated area and they can be injected in highly concentrated amounts. Doctors can administer the therapy in a single session rather than have the patient come back for frequent and continued treatments.
Stem cells have advanced podiatric medicine and now allow doctors to treat injuries and illnesses for which surgery or steroids were once the only available remedies. Patients can avoid invasive treatments as well as prolonged pain and limited mobility.
Stem cell therapy has also proven effective in treating podiatric conditions that afflict people of all ages. Patients can get back to their normal routines faster without undergoing prolonged medical care.