Dr. Nathan Lucas
Board Certified – American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery
Stem Cell Therapy Builds New Tissue for More Complete Recovery
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem Cell Therapy is also called “regenerative therapy,” because it uses the body’s most basic “raw material,” stem cells, to grow or regenerate new cells that the body needs. Stem cells are “undifferentiated” or “unspecialized” cells, meaning that they are “blanks” that can be developed into another type of cell that is required to repair or replace damaged tissue. In the musculoskeletal field, stem cell therapy can stimulate the formation of new bone, cartilage, tendon, ligaments, fat, and fibrous connective tissue.
What are the benefits of Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem Cell Therapy creates specialized cells that have a particular life cycle and purpose, like bone or connective tissue. Stem cells can replicate themselves, too, so it is theoretically possible to have an unending supply of these regenerative “machines” that can then divide and be guided to produce the cells your doctor needs to fulfill specific purposes in your treatment.
Stem Cell Therapy can:
- Repair tissue that is too damaged to heal on its own
- Regenerate tissue that is missing (ex.: cartilage in arthritic joints)
- Provide a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues
Types of Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are now being studied for use in a wide range of conditions, from diabetes, to heart disease, to musculoskeletal disorders, to neurological disorders.
While stem cells can be derived from several sources, the most adaptable are embryonic and amniotic stem cells, the former derived from days-old human embryos, and the latter derived from the amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus.
Adult stem cells are most often used to produce new cells of the same lineage. The body uses these cells naturally to maintain and repair the tissue in which the stem cells develop.
Induced pluripotent stem cells are adult stem cells that have been genetically programmed to act like embryonic stem cells. These are important tools in evaluating new drugs and in modeling diseases to help researchers understand how disease develops in the body.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
What is PRP?
PRP is platelet-rich plasma, also known as autologous blood concentrate. Platelets are a specialized type of blood cell which contains the growth factors needed to heal injured tissues including tendons, ligaments and joints. The goal is to enhance the healing environment to cure the chronically affected tissue naturally and without the side effects of medicine or surgery.
Why does PRP work?
Human platelets are naturally rich in connective tissue growth factors. By injecting these growth factors into damaged ligaments and tendons, it stimulates a natural repair process by the body’s own healing system. Essentially, we are using the body’s own blood cells and directing them where they are needed to heal damaged tissue.
What conditions benefit from PRP?
- Plantar fasciitis and tears of the plantar fascia
- Achilles tendonitis and tendocalcinosis
- Posterior Tibial Tendonitis and tendonosis
- Peroneal tendonitis
- Ankle sprains
- Cartilage and joint capsule tears
- Joint pain and plantar plate injuries
- Non-healing ulcers or wounds
How is PRP done?
In the office, blood is drawn from the patients arm and placed in a special centrifuge. The platelets are then separated from the red blood cells and concentrated. The concentrated platelets are then put in a syringe and injected into the injured area. The process is done under either local anesthesia or twilight anesthesia, which minimizes pain. The entire process usually takes less than 30 minutes
What is the success rate?
There have been many studies documenting the effectiveness of PRP treatment. The studies have generally resulted in a success rate of 80 to 85% with patients experiencing a complete relief of their pain and the results are generally permanent.