Ankle injuries are common among athletes but a sudden movement or act of imbalance can cause anyone to twist their ankle and end up with a sprain. Moreover, ankle arthritis can be a major source of pain and injury among older patients. The good news is that many foot and ankle injuries can be effectively cured without the need for ankle surgery. Rising in popularity are non surgical techniques such as stem cell injections.
Stem cell injections, as the name suggests, is the introduction of stem cells into a localized region of the body to help spur the healing process. Essentially, the human body hosts two kinds of cells; the differentiated type that are specialized for a certain function and the undifferentiated type that are capable of serving other functions in the body. Undifferentiated cells come from tissues of the body through which all other specialized cells of the body can be generated. For example, bone marrow transplant is one of the most widely known forms of stem cell therapy.
There are about four main types of stem cells that can be used for cellular regeneration purposes in an ankle. Let’s discuss each one of them below.
Embryonic stem cells
Embryonic stem cells are also known as pluripotent stem cells. They come from human embryos that are about three to five days old. In most cases, the embryo will be formed through a process called in-vitro fertilization. The primary use of embryonic stem cells lies in their versatile ability to transform into any type of cell in the body. Hence, these work well to repair or regenerate cells in the body like in the case of ankle injuries.
Non embryonic stem cells
Also known as adult stem cells but can be found in the bodies of infants too. They are derived from bone marrow or fatty tissues. Unlike their embryonic counterparts, these cells are only able to regenerate cells in the region that they are found because they are capable of making the same sample of cells as their structure. For ankle treatment, this set of cells needs to be taken from a tissue within the ankle only.
Induced pluripotent stem cells
This is a fairly new type of stem cell that has the potential to transform into differentiated cells in the body. This means that an injection of iPSC can produce new cells within a damaged ankle tissue. However, research in this area is still ongoing and scientists are trying to ensure the human immune system does not reject the insertion of these cells.
Perinatal stem cells
These cells are found in the amniotic fluid and the blood sample of an umbilical cord. Perinatal stem cells do have the capability of transforming into specialized cells and have been used to treat cancers and blood disorders among children in the past.
Knowing that there is so much potential within stem cell therapy means that there is hope for those seeking treatment for debilitating ankle injuries. If you’re in Miami, FL and are looking for non invasive methods of treatment for your ankle then get in touch with the Foot and Ankle Institute.