18 Jan Is Stem Cell Therapy A Breakthrough For Achilles Tendonitis?
It seems that 2017 was the year of the Achilles as a number of high profile athletes suffered debilitating Achilles injuries throughout the year. Arsenal star Laurent Koscielny has been suffering throughout the year and requires constant treatment to keep him match fit. This comes after news that the Atlanta Brase Adonis Garcia suffered from Achilles tendonitis on and off before finally signing with a Korean baseball team. There are also rumblings in Foxboro that New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady could be suffering from an Achilles injury – possibly Achilles tendonitis – after being listed on the injury report with an Achilles injury for a number of weeks in November. As more professional and amateur athletes alike suffer through the pain of Achilles tendonitis – there is a definite need for more permanent and efficacious therapies. Is stem cell therapy the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for?
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
In effect, Achilles tendonitis is a disorder caused by overuse of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that connects your calf to your foot bone (the heel). If you are involved in a sport or activity where you are walking or running a LOT then you are at an increased risk of developing Achilles tendonitis.
What treatment is available for Achilles tendonitis?
There are a few things you can do for yourself at home but many cases of Achilles tendonitis require a specialist clinic to truly get over the issue. Preventative measures you can try at home include:
- Strength training of the calf muscles – the best runners work this into their training regime
- Not having rest days – the risk of getting Achilles tendonitis as a runner is significantly higher in those that don’t take 2 or more rest days a week (remember – Achilles tendonitis is an overuse issue)
When attending a clinic – you will probably be offered some of the following therapies:
- Professional Physiotherapy
- Shockwave therapy
- Steroid Injections
- Stem cell therapy
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy could be the breakthrough that patients with Achilles tendonitis have been looking for. In stem cell therapy – you own cells are taken from the bone marrow and then injected back into the Achilles tendon. This allows the tendon (which usually doesn’t repair well) to repair significantly better. In fact, the therapy is being trialed across the United Kingdom and was recently reported on in the Daily Mail.
According to a number of studies, stem cells can significantly increase the chances of tendon repair in individuals receiving the treatment over those that do not receive stem cells. This is an important breakthrough as lots of the previous treatments (eg steroid injections) simply help to relieve the pain and don’t in and of themselves cause repair of the tendon tissue. As such this could be a massive breakthrough for sufferers of achilles tendonitis as faster recovery reduces the risk of reinjury and can mean they are back running and walking in a significantly shorter period of time.