Foot Pain & Conditions

Atlanta Stem Cell Therapies

Regenerative Treatments for Foot Pain

Our feet do a lot of work each and every day, so it’s not surprising that foot pain is a common complaint. Some of the most frequent causes of foot pain include conditions that respond well to regenerative treatments. These can include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Diabetic foot problems

Regenerative medicine can help avoid the need for surgical intervention and can be used to enhance the benefits of surgery or other treatments. The type of treatment prescribed to help relieve foot pain will depend on the cause of the pain.

The use of regenerative therapies aims to encourage the growth of healthy cartilage, bone, and connective tissues. Damage and diseases such as osteoarthritis in these tissues are common causes of foot pain. Such treatments are often able to not only relieve painful symptoms but to also restore mobility, strength, and range of motion.

When regenerative treatments are used alongside surgery they can support a quick recovery and help reduce the formation of scar tissue that might otherwise limit the benefits of surgery. In some cases, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may be used to encourage the repair of damaged nerve tissue or tendons or even to help grow new material for use in transplant surgery.

MSCs are found in bone marrow and stimulate the activity of chondrocytes, specialized cells in the joints that increase the production of proteoglycans and type II collagen to promote cartilage regeneration. As such, MSCs are especially helpful when foot pain is connected to conditions such as arthritis or specific injuries to these tissues.

Regenerative therapies for foot pain that use stem cell injections are advantageous in a number of ways as they:

  • Are non-invasive – posing little risk of infection or other complications
  • Require very little downtime – excellent for athletes who need to continue training
  • Use a patient’s own stem cells – no issues with tissue rejection
  • Actively work to promote healthy tissue growth – rather than just masking symptoms.

Non-surgical regenerative treatments may make use of injections with:

  • Adipose-derived stem cells
  • Bone marrow concentrate
  • Platelet-rich plasma.

Adipose-derived stem cells

Human adipose tissue (body fat) is a rich source of stem cells. Fat extracted from adipose tissue can be minimally processed in order to separate out the stem cells for injection to treat foot pain.

Numerous trials have demonstrated the benefits of adipose-derived stem cell injections for Achilles tendon injury in animals. Other research shows that biodegradable scaffolds seeded with mesenchymal stem cells can help facilitate healing of Achilles tendon injury.

Bone marrow concentrate

Bone marrow aspirate drawn from a patient’s bone marrow is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells. This aspirate can be centrifuged to separate out the stem cells and create bone marrow concentrate (BMC).

MSCs go on to create the cells that make up bones, cartilage, tendons, and other tissues, and injections of these stem cells have been used for many years in orthopedic practice. BMC injections are generally considered safe and effective for foot pain related to orthopedic conditions.

When combined with arthroscopic debridement to removed damaged tissue, injections of bone marrow aspirate and bone marrow concentrate can help relieve foot pain and enable patients to return to normal activities faster. BMC may also be used in surgery to address bone fractures in the foot, helping to facilitate the process of healing and fusion in the bones.

As we age, stem cell concentrations decline. BMC Injections can help counteract this age-related decrease in stem cell concentrations in order to restore and preserve strength, stability, and range of motions in the foot and ankle.

Read on for more about bone marrow concentrate.

Platelet rich plasma (PRP)

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a rich source of numerous growth factors involved in the development of healthy joint tissue. PRP injections have been successfully used in the treatment of plantar fasciitis, a condition diagnosed in around 15% of patients seeking medical help for foot pain. Such injections appear to help decrease plantar fascia thickness that contributes to the painful condition.

PRP is derived from a patient’s own blood, which is centrifuged (spun very fast) to separate out plasma and stem cells. The growth factors in PRP can counteract undesirable biologic activity that may be triggering foot pain, while helping to stimulate healing repair to reduce symptoms and prevent further tissue degeneration.

PRP may be especially helpful for the relief of foot pain connected to tendon problems, including Achilles tendon issues. Clinical research shows that PRP can enhance cell proliferation and differentiation into active tenocytes. PRP also promotes angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels to feed healthy tissue), collagen synthesis, and tissue remodeling.

Read on for more about platelet rich plasma.