Stem Cells for Foot Ankle and Knee Pain – What You Need to Know

stem-cell-research-400x316Regenerative medicine has become very popular as many famous people and athletes jump on the bandwagon. You have likely seen stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP) being used for many conditions including injuries, tendon problems, joint pain and in plastic surgery procedures. Stem cells are much more costly than PRP and need a procedure to harvest them. Other regenerative options include prolotherapy and ozone. So it pays to become informed to make the best choice and that is my goal. This comes from much research and using Regenerative Medicine techniques in my practice over the last 10 years.

Stem Cells So what’s out there in studies that show what stem cells can do for foot, ankle and knee pain. The answer is that there are few high quality studies that confirm their benefit because nobody really knows how they work when taken away from their environment. And the doctors that are using these stem cells may have only jumped on the bandwagon over the past few years with minimal knowledge to make money. Also there knowledge and training often comes from a company representative that wants to sell their products. So is this trend money driven?

So how do stem cells work? Well again there is currently not a great understanding of how they really work. We do know that stem cells can turn into virtually any body tissue as that is what they do naturally during the bodies repair process. However, when stem cells are taken from your fat or bone marrow, nobody really know if they are active or what they really do when processed and injected into a joint or a damaged Achilles tendon. The problem is that those stem cells have been moved from one part of your body to another. They don’t have the environment that tells them what to do or what kind of tissue to become.

Let’s take a joint for example. There is no bone marrow or fat inside the joint but you are placing stem cells into this foreign area. What really needs to happen is we need to them there naturally. Read on and I will tell you how that can happen.

What About Safety? Removing stem cells is more invasive and requires a procedure so there is some additional risk. And the safety answer simply is that nobody really knows how safe it is to remove stem cells and inject them somewhere else. Do they work? Can they cause bad effects? Nobody knows yet. It’s too early and the research is just not there yet. Many of these products are FDA approved but so are many harmful drugs. I believe that in the future there will be quality research that will give us the answers.

Stem cells however are they key to healing your foot, ankle and knee pain. So what can you do to get the benefits of stem cells? I believe the best answer is by using other forms of Regenerative Medicine that have been around for a long time and have studies to back them.

PRP or platelet rich plasma is a proven way to get your own bodies stem cells to come to an area of injury naturally and safely. There is much more research over the years supporting PRP usage. The stem cells from your body stores know exactly where to go and what to repair. So you don’t need to take stem cells from your own body and move them to an injury site. You use PRP to naturally do that for you. Platelet Rich Plasma contains many growth factors and signaling molecules that attract stem cells to an injured joint, tendon, muscle or ligament. When the stem cells arrive they know what tissue to become and the healing process proceeds rapidly.

And what about prolotherapy and ozone? These are safe ways of turning on the bodies healing response naturally to get growth factors and stem cells to come to the area for healing of foot, ankle and knee pain and injuries. This is the safest first line treatment for many of these conditions and these treatments are very safe.

Call Advanced Podiatry in Tampa today at 813-875-0555 to consider your Regenerative Medicine options.

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