Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine is the branch of medicine focused on the replacement or regeneration of defective tissue with new healthy tissue. There are many aspects to this area, from use of stem cells to attempt to grow new mature tissue cells or other means used to induce the body to replace it's own tissues which may be diseased or defective.

What is the significance of regenerative medicine in podiatry?  A large percentage of the foot and ankle problems I treat as a podiatrist in San Antonio are repetitive strain injuries.  Acute injuries result from trauma such as a sprained ankle or a bone that breaks when a heavy object fall upon it. Chronic injuries occur when there are excessive forces repeatedly applied to a body part.  A stress fracture is an example of such an injury in which on may engage in normal walking or running with a bone, unable to bear the load of that activity, forms small cracks and eventually breaks.  Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs with certain repetitive wrist movements causing pain and numbness in the hand.  Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar but occurs in the foot.

Tendons and ligaments subject to excessive repetitive strain may become inflamed but eventually will enlarge and start to break down.  Such breakdown in tendons is called “tendinosis” and “fasciosis” in the fascia or ligaments. Plantar fasciitis, a leading cause of heel and arch pain, left untreated may eventually progress to plantar fasciosis. Plantar fasciosis, before it was completely understood, used to be called “intractable” plantar fasciits and may have been treated surgically.

The following treatments are regenerative medical treatments that we commonly use to treat such issues in the foot and ankle in our podiatry practice here in San Antonio:

ESWT or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy

This involves the use of sonic pressure waves applied to areas of tendinosis or fasciosis for the purpose of the induction of tissue remodeling, that is, replacement of diseased tissue with healthy tissue by the body.   We utilize the Swiss Dolorclast ESWT at our podiatry office in San Antonio to perform this non-invasive procedure with a high degree of success.  Many of our patients cannot take off time from work due to their occupations or are athletes so ESWT, a modality with zero down time is often preferred over more invasive options.

PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma

Platelets are small blood cells that are involved in blood clotting and the healing process. Platelet rich plasma involves the taking of a blood sample, then concentrating it in such a manner that a small volume of fluid containing a high concentration of platelets is available. The growth factors found in the platelet concentrate may be injected into areas of tendinosis or fasciosis to induce tissue healing.  PRP may be administered as an injection in the office or outpatient surgicenter.

Stem Cells and Stem Cell Products

Stem cells are immature cells that have the potential to turn into other cells as they mature.They are “undifferentiated” cells, that is, cells that have not yet specified what type of tissue they would create as mature cells.  Stem cells are found in mature adults, not just children; the bone marrow being a common source.  A simpler means to administer stem cells is via certain products that have a large number of stem cells.  Amniotic stem cells are stem cells that are extracted from amniotic fluid, the fluid surrounding babies in utero.  Amniotic fluid is removed from the fluid sac after birth of the baby as a donation, the fluid is preserved and concentrated  for the purpose of creating a product containing stem cells.  Injections of amniotic fluid stem cell concentrates are an effective way of placing such cells in damaged tissue.



For more information on Regenerative Medicine in the               San Antonio, TX area, call Ed Davis, DPM, FACFAS.               at (210) 490-3668 today!