Achilles tendonitis and tears are painful conditions that sideline many athletes and active individuals from their favorite sports or activities each year. Patients with these injuries often become frustrated with traditional self-care treatments like rest, ice and over the counter pain relievers because their inability to bring relief. Surgical interventions also do not guarantee results, and patients, tired of pain and inactivity, are now turning to new therapies. One new therapy is SVF stem cell therapy that uses stem cells to treat damaged Achilles tendons and other soft tissue injuries.
The Achilles tendon is a band of thick, tough tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone in the foot. It is the largest tendon in the human body, and also the most strong. This tendon gives the foot its ability to flex, and plays a key role in normal daily functions walking, and other physical activities like jogging, jumping and running.
As a result of use, the Achilles tendon wears out. The wear and tear of the tendon often results in micro tears that can eventually result in a larger, complete tear of the tendon. Wear and tear may also develop into tendonitis, a painful condition caused by inflammation of the tissue. Achilles tendinosis may also develop, and is a condition in which the tendon thickens gradually over time, causing pain and stiffness with movement.
Achilles tendon injuries take a long time to heal on their own. Blood flow to the area is limited, and as a result, the blood that carries necessary healing nutrients like oxygen, has a hard time reaching the site and facilitating healing. Connective tissue cells are also slow to reproduce.
The solution to slow healing in the Achilles tendon is to give the area a boost of stem cells through SVF therapy. SVF, or stromal vascular fraction, therapy utilizes stem cells taken from the injured patient’s adipose fat tissue. These cells are separated from other tissue and then reintroduced intravenously and by injection into the body at the site of injury. The cells immediately begin to work on repairing the damaged tissue.
Adipose fat stem cells are extremely beneficial to connective tissue injuries because both adipose fat tissue and connective tissue develop out of mesenchymal stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells also develop into bone, blood vessels and even into dental pulp.
One physician using SVF therapy to treat Achilles tendon and other connective and soft tissue injuries is Dr. Bill Johnson, M.D. Johnson’s stem cell therapy clinic in Dallas, Texas, harvests adipose stem cells, or ASCs, from the patient using liposuction. “Stem cells have the unique ability to become other cells, so stem cells taken from adipose fat turn into other types of tissue,” explains Johnson. “Stem cells also have the ability to replicate themselves infinitely,” says Johnson. This replication is extremely beneficial for tendon injuries because new cells are made at the site of injury, helping to heal it from the inside out.
Stem cell therapy treatments that use the patient’s own cells eliminate the risk of rejection or reaction. Stem cell therapy also works quickly, bringing the patient relief. Most patients experience relief in just one to two days after treatment. Many patients experience a pain reduction, too, as a result of the anti-inflammatory benefits of stem cells. This anti-inflammatory effect lasts for two to three months, on average. As a result of SVF therapy, patients regain their ability to participate in their favorite activities, pain free.
This therapy has also proved to be beneficial for patients with other types of soft or connective tissue injuries like those that occur in the rotator cuff. Johnson uses SVF therapy to treat a wide range of conditions in his clinic beyond tissue injuries, such as painful neuropathy, spinal cord injuries and lung disorders such as COPD.