Stem Cells for toe joint arthritis? DF is a 40 year old active mother of 5 kids who runs in races where obstacle courses and mud figure heavily. We’ve treated her for years for a bad back, but recently she approached me about her big toe. She was in constant pain that was limiting her activity after a bone spur was removed a few years back. This story was the subject of this blog post on the use of injections to tighten the ligaments and the injection of stem cells in her toe joint. She had a Regenexx-SCP injection in March as well as several injections to tighten the ligaments on the inside of the toe.
As a result of all of this and some work we’re doing on her back, she reports increasing her ability to exercise and work-out and recently completing the Warrior Dash. She reports a 60% improvement in her toe pain at about 6 months out from the injection and her follow-up x-rays above are really interesting. Note that the before image on the left, the toe MTP joint (base of the toe joint) has a clearly collapsed inside joint line (to the right at the red arrow in the red dashed circle). The picture to the right, 6 months after the stem cells shows a more normal appearing joint with no collapse of the joint.
What happened? Most physicians would likely assume cartilage regeneration, as collapsed joints get that way because the cartilage wears out. What were her options if she didn’t chose the stem cell injections? In that case she was likely looking at a toe joint fusion surgery, which would have likely eliminated her ability to run. The upshot? DF is doing well after stem cell injections into the toe joint. Again, rather than magic injections, we had to take an orthopedics 2.0 approach (see our practice’s book on stem cells and how we approach patients). In this case one of the key issues was also treating the instability in the joint. Why, because a joint that’s unstable wears cartilage away faster than a stable joint. We look forward to seeing how DF overcomes the “obstacles” in her way!
NOTE: Regenexx-SCP is a medical procedure and like all medical procedures has a success and failure rate. Not all Regenexx-SCP patients can expect the same result.