Regenerative injections are one of the newest and most exciting treatment options we now have available for patients at Kalamazoo Podiatry. The potential it has for helping patients overcome pain and restore healthy function to their feet and ankles is truly massive.
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’re going to answer some of the most common questions we hear, as well as explain some of the major perks of choosing regenerative medicine for your care (as opposed to going with 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 own natural repair mechanisms.
By this definition, MLS laser therapy (which we also offer at Kalamazoo Podiatry) would certainly qualify as a regenerative procedure. That said, when most people use the term, they’re probably thinking about 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. When injected into the site of chronic pain—typically inflamed joints or damaged tendons and other soft tissues—the body’s natural healing process is boosted and accelerated.
Is It Ethical to Use Amniotic Tissue for Therapy?
This is probably the second-most common concern we hear from our patients, so we wanted to address it early:
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 risks to the health of either the mother or the child, and we would never use or support a product that did.
In short, yes, it is 100% ethical. In this scenario, under normal circumstances, the amniotic tissue and fluid would simply be discarded as medical waste after the successful C-section. But by saving it, it can be further used to bring pain relief and healing to others.
Why Choose Regenerative Injections? 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 be wondering why you would choose it over, or alongside, more conventional treatments.
Of course, each case is unique. Regenerative medicine techniques won’t be best, or necessary, for every individual. But in those cases where it is recommended as a treatment option, there are many significant benefits.
Here are a few of the biggest ones:
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 absolute safest procedures we offer—even safer than cortisone shots, to say nothing of 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, there are extremely rigorous screening, testing, sterilizing, and preservation procedures in place to confirm donor eligibility and prepare the tissue.
In short, there’s very little that could possibly 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, you get a shot, you leave.
The biggest 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 actually 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) comes with an increased risk of permanent cartilage damage.
By contrast, regenerative injections facilitate long-term relief by actually helping your injured tissues to regenerate and heal, rather than simply masking the symptoms temporarily.
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.
That said, people who choose regenerative injection therapy as part of their comprehensive treatment plan will often see much more dramatic results, much more quickly, 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
For most foot and ankle conditions that produce chronic pain, the typical advice is to exhaust all your conservative options first (rest, physical therapy, footwear changes, activity modifications, orthotics, etc.). If such techniques ultimately don’t provide you with sufficient long-term relief, surgical options will then be considered.
Unfortunately, what we often see happen in certain 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 literally designed to regenerate tired and broken-down tissues, which is a good description for most instances of chronic soft tissue pain.
It’s Typically Covered
The regenerative injection therapy product we use meets strict FDA criteria and regulations, and since 2020 has been covered by Medicare. Most patients who use this therapy are able to use their insurance, though of course coverage varies depending on carrier policies. We are happy to help you figure out what your plan will cover before moving ahead with the procedure.
Is Regenerative Medicine Right for You?
We can’t answer that question for you in a blog post, but only after you come for a thorough evaluation. Whether we recommend regenerative medicine or not 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 do want to emphasize that regenerative medicine, though perhaps unfamiliar to many of our patients, is nonetheless extremely 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 the form on this page or give us a call at (269) 373-1019.