Stem Cell Treatment of Ankle Pain in an Ankle Fusion Candidate

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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Ankle pain can come form many structures and is commonly related to sprains of the outside ankle ligaments which can cause the ankle to become unstable. Once an MRI shows that the main ankle joints have arthritis, then surgery is often recommended. If the outside ankle ligaments have been damaged, torn, or stretched and the arthritis is mild, often surgery is reccomended to tighten or replace the ligaments (usually with a tendon moved to a new location). However, recent studies have questioned whether the replacement or repair of ankle ligaments with ankle surgery actually restores normal ankle motion. The two most common surgeries used when the ankle has significant arthritis are ankle fusion and ankle joint replacement. Ankle fusion means that multiple screws are used to stop motion in most of the main ankle joints. The problem with fusing a joint is that the remaining forces have to go somewhere and they often end up causing more arthritis in the joints that aren’t fused. Most of the patients we’ve seen through the years get this overload syndrome of nearby joints from an ankle fusion surgery. An ankle joint replacement is another option, but one that’s new and based on the results we’ve seen, not ready for prime time in most patients. LB is a 51 year old WF with a 3 year year history of chronic ankle pain who had an MRI that showed she was in that last category, with significant lost cartilage in the ankle joints (mostly subtalar). She was determined to be a POOR-FAIR candidate for the Regenexx-SD procedure, but she was adament that she didn’t want and ankle fuision or joint replacement and wanted to give it a try. This was performed in 4 months ago and we got this letter from her today:

“Hi Regenexx team

Good to hear from you.

It is now almost three months since my visit to your lovely city and clinic.  I am pleased to say that after a mixed response to the second treatment the overall outcome is very positive.  I have to keep reminding myself that the assessed outcome for my joint was in the very low category. I have regained some comfort and mobility which has enabled me to strengthen the surrounding structure of the joint.  The stronger it gets the better I walk.   I am pleased I went for the treatment. When there was very little hope and very limited, destructive, options I was very glad to be able to try the stem cell therapy. I cannot speak more highly of the professional integrity of you all toward me and I do not hesitate to do so when talking to others about my treatment.

Thank you.”

Not all ankle patients respond this way and even in LB, we thought it was unlikely that the Regenexx-SD procedure would help. However, LB has done better than expected-not a miracle cure, but a steady improvement allowing her to strengthen the ankle.

Category: Ankle, Regenexx-SD

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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