Treating Ankle Arthritis with Stem Cells

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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ankle stem cells

JM is a 41 year old WM from Europe who was seen in our Colorado clinic in July of last year seeking an ankle surgery alternative. His initial injury was a fracture of the talus bone (one of the major structural bones that makes up the big ankle joint). This fracture eventually lead to significant arthritis in the main ankle joint (tibio-talar). When he was first seen, he was diagnosed with significant impingement of the front of the ankle due to large bone spurs from the ankle arthritis. He also had significant tendon swelling from an overload of his tendons and a stretched ankle ligament. We knew that just throwing stem cells into his ankle joint wouldn’t solve the fact that big bone spurs in the front of the joint were preventing normal ankle motion and causing excessive forces in the ankle joint, nor would it solve his ankle tendon swelling or ligament instability. As a result, he was offered Barbotage, a procedure where we can remove bone spurs through a needle without the need for surgery. This procedure has much faster recovery time than traditional open surgery, as it’s simply a more complex injection. He underwent three Regenexx-SD stem cell injections into the large ankle joint and 2 of the Barbotage procedures. His recent e-mail to Dr. Hanson is below:

“I’d thought I’d give you a quick update on my ankle..

I’ve made significant improvement  over the last 3 months and am able now to participate in many of the sports that I was hoping for.  I’ve started windsurfing again (after a 2.5 year layoff), surfing and have also been skiing a couple of times.  My dorsiflexion is now way better than the neutral position I had prior to the treatment, Its taken quite a while for all the inflammation in ligaments and tendons around the front of my foot to reduce, but now it has and this has meant that my calf muscle has really developed which in turn has lead to further improvements.

I can run short distances but I’m trying to take it slowly so as soon as I have any swelling I back off on any activities.  I’m thrilled with the results especially as simple things (like walking!) are so much easier – I try and walk for 45 minutes each day, mostly on sand to keep the muscle mass building.”

What we think is important about JM’s story is that in order to help him, it was more than just placing stem cells somewhere in the vicinity of an ankle joint. Instead, we had to solve his tendon issues, take off his bone spurs, and ultimately place stem cells in the ankle joint under imaging guidance in ankle arthritis stem cells injections. Again, this is the an “Interventional Orthopedics” approach.

NOTE:  Regenexx-SD and Barbotage are medical procedures and like all medical procedures they have a success and failure rate.  Not all Regenexx-SD and Barbotage patients will experience the same result.

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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