The Future of Stem Cell Therapy in Podiatry

In our recent blogs, we’ve taken you through the ins and outs of stem cell therapy and how regenerative medicine can help heal your podiatric ailments. Now we’re winding down our three-part series by dipping our toes in what the future looks like for stem cell therapy and how that benefits you. Read about it below!

Stem Cell Therapy Today

As we continue unraveling and understanding the science behind stem cells and how they work, regenerative medicine is becoming more prevalent in the medical field and more readily available. Yes, many notable professional athletes have chosen stem cell therapy to help them get their A-game back, but the treatment is now becoming more widely available to nearly every patient. This treatment is also incredibly safe since stem cells naturally occur within the human body, and it can benefit just about any patient.

What’s the Big Deal About Stem Cells?

Because of stem cells’ nature to divide and change into whatever type of cell is needed within the injured part of the body, stem cell therapy is highly effective and may provide faster healing and recovery times than traditional methods! If you had an ankle injury and opted for stem cell therapy, the cells introduced to your ankle would become cartilage cells, ligament cells, or bone cells to expedite healing.

Regenerative medicine is also versatile and treats an array of podiatric conditions, especially those that have been particularly difficult to treat. Whether you have plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, arthritis, chronic ankle sprains, or soft tissue damage, stem cell therapy can offer you painless, effective healing.

Paving the Way for the Future

Right now, scientists continue to study stem cells in the hopes of developing more effective treatments. A great deal of research is being conducted on adult stem cells, especially since there are ethical and legal roadblocks related to embryonic stem cells. Scientists are looking in particular at mesenchymal stem cells (a.k.a. multipotent stromal progenitor cells). These cells are found in the bone marrow and have the ability to change into many types of cells to promote healing within the body. Right now, researchers are trying to determine if there are more effective ways of introducing these cells into the body at different stages of healing!

With stem cells and their unique ability to transform and heal damaged tissue and wounds, the possibilities are endless. With more research and a greater understanding from practitioners and patients, regenerative medicine will become even more available in podiatry. We at The Foot & Ankle Center are proud to provide regenerative stem cell therapy. Call the knowledgeable doctors at (314) 487-9300 to learn more or schedule your appointment today!

What Are Hammertoes and How Can You Prevent Them?

We get it – you enjoy wearing high-heeled shoes whenever you can. In fact, your closet may be filled with nothing but cute, fashionable shoes with tight toe boxes. But who cares as long as you look good – pain is beauty, right? Before you try to stuff your feet into a few-sizes-too-small shoe with virtually zero support, be aware that this habit can begin changing your feet, and not for the better. Exhibit A: hammertoes.

What Are Hammertoes?

This common podiatric deformity is a contracture of the middle joint in the toe (often the 2nd through 5th digits), which forces the toe to bend downward as opposed to lying flat. When viewed at the side, the toe appears as an upside-down “v.” It’s a sneaky deformity since it appears gradually – you may not even notice it until it’s too late. Hammertoes are also more commonly found in females than males.

Wait, There Are Two Types of Hammertoes?

Yes! There are both flexible hammertoes and rigid hammertoes. Initially, hammertoes are flexible, but if they’re left untreated, they can become rigid and difficult to treat. If you aren’t able to straighten your affected toe, then you more than likely have a rigid hammertoe. The key is catching hammertoes when they’re still flexible, if at all possible, since they can be treated with simple measures in the earlier stage.

What Causes Hammertoes?

Maybe you’re born with it – maybe it’s how you treat your feet. Either way, there are several factors that can cause hammertoes, including the following:

  • Genetics – Being born with a particular foot type predisposes you to developing joint deformities in time. If you have flat feet, high arches, or particularly flexible feet, you may wind up with hammertoes later on in life.
  • Your shoe choice – If you often wear ill-fitting shoes with narrow toe boxes and little to no arch support, you may eventually experience hammertoes.
  • Certain underlying medical conditions – Arthritis, neuromuscular diseases, tendon imbalances, bunions, and even trauma to the toes can also cause hammertoes.

So I Have a Hammertoe – How Can I Treat It?

While there is no cure for hammertoes, there are plenty of ways you can treat them at home to help ease any pain or discomfort you may be feeling:

  • Apply a commercial, non-medicated hammertoe pad around the affected area. This will help decrease pressure around the area.
  • Choose supportive, roomy shoes with a deep toe box to give your toes more wiggle room.
  • If your hammertoe becomes inflamed, ice packs can help reduce the swelling. Remember to wrap the ice pack in cloth before applying it to your toe!
  • Custom orthotics from your podiatrist may also help reduce symptoms and prevent your hammertoe from worsening.

If these measures don’t relieve your pain, surgery may be needed to help correct the problem.

How Can I Prevent Hammertoes from Happening in the First Place?

Wearing the right shoes and taking good care of your feet are often enough to help you prevent or delay the formation of hammertoes. Here are a few things that you can do now to keep your toes healthy and functional:

  • Choose supportive shoes that fit you well. We suggest shoe shopping at the end of the day since the feet often swell a bit. This will help you find the best fit for your foot.
  • Avoid wearing shoes with a narrow or pointy toe box or a high heel.
  • Wear orthotics as prescribed by your podiatrist.
  • Try foot exercises! Every once in a while, tune into your feet and try curling and extending your toes. This will help keep your muscles strong and your toes supple.
  • Pay special attention to your feet. If you notice pain or anything out of the norm, call your podiatrist for an appointment.

If you’re experiencing hammertoes, don’t wait. Give your hardworking feet the love and respect they deserve by making an appointment with the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule an appointment, or request one at your convenience online!

Have a Foot or Ankle Ailment? Try Stem Cell Therapy

Foot and ankle injuries and chronic ailments are no joke. They derail us from our lives, throw wrenches in our workout plans, and hinder our outdoor adventures. But let us tell you this: if you’ve felt like you need to continuously endure your ailments or that surgery is your only answer, you would be mistaken. Fortunately, stem cell therapy, which is a noninvasive, virtually painless experience, can help heal your body and make you feel whole again!

Remind Me – What’s Stem Cell Therapy Again?

We recently discussed quite a bit of information in one of our previous blogs about all the ins and outs of stem cell therapy. In a nutshell, though, stem cell therapy (also known as regenerative medicine) is a type of treatment that can heal a variety of podiatric conditions safely and effectively. Stem cells are unique in that they have the ability to change into specialized cells and divide to produce even more stem cells. They also nudge the cells already present in your body to lend a helping hand in fixing your ailment, which ultimately accelerates the healing process!

Great, So Which Foot and Ankle Conditions Can Stem Cell Therapy Treat?

Regenerative medicine is quite incredible. This cutting-edge therapy can treat a wide variety of podiatric ailments and conditions, including:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Ankle tendon tears
  • Bunions
  • Ligament sprains of the ankle
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Sports injuries

Typically, depending on the severity and location of the treatment site, you should need only one stem cell injection for recovery.

How Exactly Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?

Before treatment ever begins, you will come in for a consultation with our knowledgeable doctors, who will then discuss and assess your podiatric ailment. From there, our doctors will determine which course of treatment is right for you. If stem cell therapy is the answer, this is what will happen during your next visit:

During treatment, we will inject the harvested stem cells directly into the area of the body in which they are needed. This is typically around a torn or damaged tendon, scar tissue, or on your bunion. From there, the incredibly adaptable stem cells start duplicating rapidly and turn daughter cells into the exact cells your body requires. Then, the new cells will start working hard to repair your injury or ailment. This treatment requires no incisions or any downtime, and healing is quick, easy, and virtually pain-free.

Call Us to Learn More Don’t let your podiatric condition dictate your life. Call The Foot & Ankle Center today at (314) 487-9300 to learn more about how stem cell therapy may help relieve your symptoms and get you back on your feet again!

I Sprained My Ankle. Now What?

It happened. You were walking along your favorite hiking trail when you suddenly twisted your ankle on the uneven pathway. Sprained ankles can happen so quickly and for a variety of reasons. The question is, what should you do about it now? If you want to get back on your feet and return to your normal everyday life, you’ll have to slow down for a little bit first and take care of your sprained ankle properly. Here’s what you need to know about recovering from a sprained ankle:

What Happens When an Ankle is Sprained?

A sprained ankle is the result of your ankle rolling out of place suddenly. This common type of injury can cause the ligaments surrounding your ankle to overstretch or even tear, resulting in pain and swelling.

How Long Will My Ankle Hurt?

It really depends on how severe the injury is, and recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Mild Sprain

A mild sprain, which includes swelling, soreness, and trouble maintaining your balance, will typically take about 2 weeks for the ligament to heal.

Moderate Sprain

If you have a moderate sprain and are experiencing considerable pain, swelling and bruising, and difficulty walking, your ligament may be partially torn. This means it should take about 6-8 weeks for you to heal completely.

Severe Sprain

Should you experience a severe sprain, your ligament may have fully torn, and you may have severe pain, significant swelling or bruising, and the inability to walk without a crutch or immobility boot. This type of injury will unfortunately take about 3 months to heal, at least.

Is There Any Way I Can Speed Up the Healing Process?

Just like with recovery time, your treatment will largely depend on the severity of the sprain. Overall, following these steps will help expedite your healing:

RICE – This tried-and-true method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help you feel better faster. Rest as much as you can, wrap your injured ankle snugly in a compression bandage, and elevate it above your heart as much as possible. As for ice, we recommend using an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours, especially within the first 3 days of the injury.

Professional Assessment – Your podiatrist or physical therapist can take a look at your injury and help you figure out the proper steps to take to help you heal.

Range of Motion Exercises – It’s important to maintain your mobility as much as possible while you recuperate. You may be given exercises and stretches to help maintain and increase your range of motion in order to combat stiffness and strengthen your ankle and foot.

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you have a mild injury, you can most likely recover at home without any assistance. However, if you experience the following, you should make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist:

  • Severe swelling
  • Extreme or persistent pain
  • Odd shape to the ankle
  • Limited range of motion
  • Inability to walk without assistance

How Can I Take Care of My Ankles in the Long Term?

Sprained ankles aren’t forever, and there are many steps you can take to help you protect and strengthen them to avoid future injury. Stretching your ankles, feet, and legs frequently, especially before and after exercising, is critical for podiatric health. Wear well-fitting shoes and avoid wearing footwear that makes your ankles unstable (high heels, flip-flops, ballet flats, etc.). Finally, continuing ankle-strengthening exercises will also help you prevent injury.

Suffering from a sprained ankle? Experiencing a painful podiatric issue? Call the friendly, knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center at (314) 487-9300! We will give you the right diagnosis and help you get back on your feet in no time.

What is a Gout Attack and How Can You Avoid It?

If you’re familiar with gout, you know that it’s an intensely painful arthritic disorder that affects the toes. Sometimes, this pain can occur suddenly and without warning. If you’ve felt this, then you probably have experienced what’s known as a gout attack.

What is Gout?

Before we can discuss what gout attacks are, let’s first look at the condition itself. Gout is a disorder that results from the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, tendons, or tissues. The result is painful, sore, and aching feet.

What is a Gout Attack?

Those who suffer from this arthritic disorder may be unexpectedly hit with intense pain that comes out of nowhere. Patients will also normally experience redness and swelling in the affected area. Often, gout sufferers will explain that their feet or toes are painful to the touch – even laying a bed sheet over the area hurts. These attacks happen most commonly during the night.

What Happens During a Gout Attack?

If you experience a gout attack, then you have uric acid to blame. When too much of this acid is present in the cool blood near your lower extremities, it can cause a negative reaction in your body. As soon as the uric acid enters the toe joints, it will trigger your body’s immune response to get rid of the foreign body. Unfortunately, patients will experience the painful symptoms this response elicits.

What’s the Deal with Uric Acid?

Now that we’ve identified the culprit, let’s discuss uric acid. Your body produces this compound to break down a substance called purine. Purine can be found not only in your body but also in certain foods and drinks you may eat, including red meats, beers and other alcoholic beverages, and salt. Typically, uric acid will dissolve in your blood, and your kidneys will filter it through your urine. However, if you produce too much uric acid, it can build up, which may cause urate crystals to form, triggering gout or gout attacks.

How Can You Treat a Gout Attack?

After a proper diagnosis, your podiatrist will prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to tackle the pain and reduce swelling. If you experience the attack in your toes, we will more than likely recommend elevating your feet, limiting walking, and wearing only loose slippers. Your symptoms should fade within 3 to 10 days. If they persist or if you have repeated attacks, however, contact us!

How Can You Prevent Gout Attacks?

A few dietary changes may be in order here. Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy, balanced diet can help stave off gout attacks. Additionally, limit or avoid purine-rich food like red meat, organ meats, red wine, beer, and alcohol. If you have a family history of gout, it would be wise to visit your podiatrist regularly to reduce the possibility of experiencing these attacks. Gout is certainly a painful disorder, but it doesn’t have to stay that way for you. Tackle gout head-on by calling the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center at (314) 487-9300!