Regenerative medicine options are some of the newest and most exciting treatments we now offer our patients at Kalamazoo Podiatry. This treatment has massive potential for helping patients overcome pain and restore healthy function to their feet and ankles.
But of course, like all new and relatively unfamiliar medical treatments and technologies, we get a lot of questions about it from our patients. What is it? How will it benefit me? Is it safe? Is it ethical?
In this blog post, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we hear and explain some of the major perks of choosing regenerative medicine for your care (as opposed to an exclusively “traditional” approach). If you have any further questions, we’d be happy to answer them at your appointment!
Let’s start at the beginning.
What Is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine is an evolving branch of medical treatments. In the broadest definition of the term, the thing that unites all regenerative medicine therapies is that they work by stimulating the body’s natural repair mechanisms.
How Is Regenerative Medicine Used in Treating Foot and Ankle Pain?
At Kalamazoo Podiatry, we offer two methods of administering regenerative therapy: MLS laser therapy and regenerative injection therapy.
Multiwave Locked System (MLS) Laser Therapy
MLS laser therapy is a regenerative procedure that uses a pair of synchronized lasers set to a specific wavelength, frequency, power, and pulse. These focused energy beams can deeply penetrate your muscle tissues to reduce swelling and pain, accelerate tissue repair, improve vascular activity and nerve function, and more.
We often recommend MLS laser therapy for patients experiencing:
When most people use the term “regenerative medicine,” they’re often referring to something more like our regenerative injection therapy.
The injectable solution in this procedure is derived from cells and cellular components found in amniotic fluid. This fluid is full of essential nutrients, growth factors, and other proteins that the body uses to grow and repair itself. The solution boosts and accelerates the body’s natural healing process when injected into the site of chronic pain, such as inflamed joints, damaged tendons, and other soft tissues.
At Kalamazoo Podiatry, we use a product called Ascent, and one of our medical staff will administer a tiny injection for maximum pain relief at the source of your pain.
Is It Ethical to Use Amniotic Tissue for Therapy?
This is probably the second-most common concern we hear from our patients, so we want to address it here.
The amniotic tissue used in the injectable product we use is taken only from live, healthy, C-section births—never from abortions, and never without the express consent of the mother. It poses absolutely no health risks for either the mother or child, and we would never use or support a product that did.
In short, yes, it is 100% ethical. Under normal circumstances, the amniotic tissue and fluid would simply be discarded as medical waste after the successful C-section. But by saving it, we can further use it to bring pain relief and healing to others.
Why Choose Regenerative Medicine? The Top Benefits and Perks
So now you know a little bit more about what regenerative medicine is, how the donor tissue in regenerative injections is gathered, and how it works. But you may still wonder why you would choose it over, or alongside, more conventional treatments.
Of course, each case is unique. Regenerative medicine techniques won’t be the best or necessary option for everyone. But there are many significant benefits in cases where it is recommended as a treatment option.
Here are a few of the biggest benefits.
It’s Extremely Safe
We know that a term like “regenerative medicine” can sound suspiciously like “experimental” or “untested” or “science fiction” in your mind.
But the surprising truth is that these are actually some of the safest procedures we offer—even safer than cortisone shots, let alone surgery. Remember, there’s nothing artificial or synthetic about the injections—it’s all 100% natural materials that your body uses anyway. We’re not injecting you with any drugs, and we’re not cutting into otherwise healthy tissue.
On top of that, incredibly rigorous screening, testing, sterilizing, and preservation procedures are in place to confirm donor eligibility and prepare the tissue.
In short, there’s very little that could go wrong or that your body could have an adverse reaction to—and in fact, no significant adverse reactions to the product have ever been reported to the FDA.
It Treats Causes and Not Just Symptoms
On a surface level, regenerative injections seem very similar to steroid/cortisone injections. The in-office experience is almost identical—you come in, get a shot, and leave.
The most significant difference is that steroid injections only treat symptoms. You may enjoy several weeks to several months of pain relief, but the injection isn’t going to do anything to help your injury heal. Without additional treatment, the pain is likely to return. Even worse, getting multiple steroid injections in a short timeframe (typically more than 3 per year) increases the risk of permanent cartilage damage.
By contrast, regenerative injections facilitate long-term relief by actually helping your injured tissues regenerate and heal, rather than temporarily masking the symptoms.
It Can Work Quickly
To be clear, you should never expect immediate results from any therapy for chronic pain. As nice as it would be, we don’t live in the Star Trek universe—at least not yet.
People who choose regenerative injection therapy as part of their comprehensive treatment plan will often see significantly more dramatic results faster than with conventional treatments like physical therapy or footwear modifications alone. A 30 to 50 percent reduction in overall recovery time is not unusual, although it’s important to understand that individual results can vary from person to person.
This makes regenerative injections an especially great choice for people who are highly motivated to minimize their downtime as much as possible, such as athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and people who work on their feet.
It Can Keep You Out of Surgery
The typical advice for most foot and ankle conditions that produce chronic pain is to exhaust all your conservative options first (rest, physical therapy, footwear changes, activity modifications, orthotics, etc.). If such techniques ultimately don’t provide sufficient long-term relief, a podiatrist will likely want to discuss surgical options.
Unfortunately, what we often see happen in some cases of chronic pain is that once the tissue has spent enough time being chronically irritated and inflamed, the healing process more or less stalls out.
Regenerative medicine gives us a new “next step” therapy we can try that isn’t invasive, isn’t surgery, and has a high rate of success. The treatment is designed to regenerate tired and broken-down tissues, which fits the bill for most instances of chronic soft tissue pain.
Is Regenerative Medicine Right for You?
We can’t answer that question for you in a blog post, so if you want to learn more, come visit us for a thorough evaluation. Whether we recommend regenerative medicine for your situation will depend on factors such as your diagnosis, the severity of your pain, your lifestyle, what other treatments might be available, and other factors. Our goal is always to do what’s best for you.
That said, we want to emphasize that regenerative medicine, though perhaps unfamiliar to many of our patients, is nonetheless highly safe, effective, ethical, and evidence-based. It’s not experimental, it’s not scary, and there’s a great chance it can really help you.
To request your appointment with Dr. Bredeweg and the team at Kalamazoo Podiatry, just fill out our online form or give us a call at (269) 373-1019.