Foot and ankle injuries are common, especially among professional athletes and sports enthusiasts. Many of these injuries can be treated non-surgically with regenerative therapy, such as stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma, depending on the nature of the injury. The Lakeland pain management clinic at Novus Spine & Pain Center has the experience necessary to relieve foot and ankle pain, without surgery and with the help of regenerative therapy.
Regenerative therapies like stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) provide alternatives to steroids and surgery. Current surgical treatment options such as ankle arthroscopy, fusion of ankle bones, and tendon grafts are all painful, and may not be effective in the long run. These surgeries typically involve a painful post-surgical recovery with a lengthy rehab period to restore strength and ankle mobility.
In contrast, same-day, in-clinic regenerative therapies can relieve foot and ankle pain by alleviating the root cause of the pain. These minimally invasive therapies use the patient’s own stem cells and plasma to naturally heal the body.
In This Article:
- What Is Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries?
- Common Conditions Treated by Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries
- Benefits of Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries
- Immobilization Key to Successful Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatments
- Novus Spine & Pain Center
- Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries Resources
What Is Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries?
Regenerative therapy is one of the most innovative and revolutionary treatments for chronic joint pain. The therapy, an injection into a painful area, has the potential to alter the foot or ankle condition instead of merely masking pain. The treatments are proven alternatives to steroids and surgery. Regenerative therapies like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell procedures can treat the damages and underlying conditions causing the pain.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections use platelets from the patient’s blood to encourage healing of damaged tissue. PRP injections are effective because they have a stimulating effect on the stem cells within the targeted area. The introduction of PRP stimulates the stem cells in the injection site to work harder to heal damaged tissues.
PRP therapy can be effective for ankle sprains and injuries that are not too severe. The procedure helps heal damaged tissues and tighten lax ligaments due to the sprain. PRP can be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis.
If the injury is substantial or if there is a tear of the ligaments, stem cell therapy is the recommended option.
Stem cells obtained from the patient’s blood, bone marrow, or body fat can be used to repair and replace damaged tissues, such as injured plantar fascia tissue. Stem cell procedures can be used for a wide range of conditions and are the tool of choice for injuries, arthritis, and other conditions that may be more significant than what may be treated with PRP therapy.
Depending on the foot or ankle injury, doctors may combine stem cell therapy with platelet-rich plasma therapy for optimal healing.
Common Conditions Treated by Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries
Here is a partial list of the foot and ankle conditions that regenerative therapies can help treat.
- Plantar fasciitis. A PRP injection is a very common treatment for plantar fasciitis. A 2012 study proves the effectiveness of PRP for plantar fasciitis.
- Achilles tendonitis. PRP is a much more helpful treatment than corticosteroids. A 2015 study released by European Foot and Ankle Society found that a single PRP injection is a safe alternative to corticosteroid injections for the treatment of non-insertional chronic recalcitrant Achilles tendinopathies.
- Diabetic foot ulcers. Non-healing diabetic foot ulcers are a major problem for people with diabetes. A 2016 study found the effects of topical application of PRP was more effective than using anti-septic creams to clean diabetic foot ulcers.
- Bone regeneration. PRP assists bone and soft-tissue healing. A systematic review of 64 independent articles found strong evidence of PRP’s role in bone tissue regeneration.
- Ankle sprains. PRP can accelerate the healing of this relatively common injury. In a randomized controlled study, researchers found that patients receiving PRP experienced significantly less pain. PRP can also reduce the typical 6-week recovery period for a torn ligament from an ankle sprain to just 2-3 weeks.
In some cases, doctors recommend wearing a support boot for two weeks after a PRP injection to allow time for healing. The support boot allows the growth factors to work without continued trauma or tension to the area.
A two-year study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy in the treatment of injury or fracture of the talus (ankle bone) found that stem cell therapy is safe, with no complications, and allowed patients to avoid surgery. The study ran from January 2015 to December 2016 and followed 26 patients (16–58 years old) who underwent stem cell therapy after other pain treatments failed to provide relief.
Average pain scores before and after the procedure, as reported by the patients, were all significantly lower using the standardized Manchester–Oxford Foot Questionnaire (MOxFQ). The MOxFQ is a patient self-assessment to report how foot problems impair health-related quality of life.
MOXFQ scores are as follows (a higher number indicates more pain on a 100-point scale):
|Pre-Operative||3-months Post-Operative||6-months Post-Operative|
|Pain (5 items)||65.0||35.4||35.4|
Other foot and ankle conditions that respond to regenerative therapy include:
- Ankle Instability.
- Chronic ligament sprain.
- Ligament sprain or tear.
- Osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle.
- Peroneal tendinitis.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Benefits of Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries
These non-surgical injection procedures happen within a single day and may be a viable alternative to surgery for anyone suffering from foot or ankle pain. Patients can more quickly return to normal activity following these non-surgical procedures, while avoiding a painful and lengthy rehabilitation process resulting from foot or ankle surgery.
PRP therapy is an effective treatment of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. About 70 percent of the patients with plantar fasciitis undergoing PRP treatments found relief after the first injection. Most improved to the point of having minimal to no pain following the procedure and did not need surgical intervention. The remaining 30 percent required a second PRP injection within two months, before reporting full recovery.
Immobilization Key to Successful Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatments
Rest and rehabilitation are often overlooked in the treatment of foot and ankle-related injuries. Whether or not the patient receives platelet-rich plasma or stem cell therapy, there is no avoidance of rehab.
Platelet-rich plasma is not a magic pill. There is no avoidance of rest and rehabilitation when treating foot and ankle injuries. Regenerative therapy treatments with platelet-rich plasma or stem cell injections must be followed by a standardized rehabilitation protocol. Depending on the severity of the injury, the rehabilitation can include a pneumatic boot or cast for 2-3 weeks. However, the length of the rehab is significantly shorter than that required following surgery.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and specializes in stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for foot and ankle injuries. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.
Regenerative Therapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries Resources
Regenexx® Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for Foot & Ankle conditions (Regenexx)
Stem Cell and Platelet Treatments for Foot and Ankle Injuries and Degenerative Conditions (Stem Cell Arts)
Stem Cell Therapy for Foot And Ankle Arthritis (NSI Stem Cell)
Complete Cartilage Regeneration Stem Cell Therapy for Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus: Early Outcomes In a Pilot Study (Orthopaedic Proceedings)
Regenerative Cell Therapy for Foot & Ankle Conditions (Stem Cell Institute of America)
Plantar Fasciitis: Injections and Prolotherapy (Sports-Health)
Platelet Rich Plasma: Can It Have An Impact For Tendinosis And Plantar Fasciosis? (Podiatry Today)
Foot And Ankle Surgeon’s Guide To Platelet-Rich Plasma (Dr. PRP USA)
Platelets rich plasma for treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis (PubMed)
Positive effect of an autologous platelet concentrate in lateral epicondylitis in a double-blind randomized controlled trial: platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection with a 1-year follow-up (PubMed)
Long-term beneficial effects of platelet-rich plasma for non-insertional Achilles tendinopathy (PubMed)
Manchester–Oxford Foot Questionnaire (Physio-pedia)