If you are one of the 20 million Americans suffering from osteoarthritis you know how difficult it can make doing even the simplest of tasks. When arthritis affects your feet and ankles, it can interfere with active lifestyles, limiting motion and independence.
Osteoarthritis develops over time, as the result of repeated stress, overuse, or an old injury. It causes the cartilage in the joint to wear down. As this happens, the bones lose their protective covering and it may feel like they are rubbing against each other. Pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint are typical symptoms.
What treatments are available?
Until recently, anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections and ankle braces offered the best chance for relief. However, these options just reduced the symptoms, doing nothing to treat the problem causing the pain and often, the condition continues to worsen.
Growth factor injections offer a game-changing approach. They induce and accelerate healing in damaged tissues. In some cases, tissue regeneration can occur, potentially eliminating the need for surgery.
The goal is to encourage healing with a process for the body to replace, repair, reprogram or renew diseased or injured cells. As new and healthy tissue forms, it helps improve function and resolve pain.
What happens in the joint?
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a group of enzymes that break down proteins, such as collagen which fills the spaces in a joint. They act like termites in the joint eating away at it. Over time, this causes inflammation and pain. Growth factor injections are helpful because they contain protease inhibitors, hyaluronic acid, natural anti-inflammatory agents, and angiogenic growth factors. Protease inhibitors aid in halting damage to cartilage in an arthritic joint (put the termites to sleep). Hyaluronic acid acts as visco-supplementation, potentially easing painful symptoms of degraded cartilage within a joint. The natural anti-inflammatory agents gently help to reduce local inflammation without broadly halting the normal wound healing process. Angiogenic growth factors assist in the development of new blood vessels that can bring nutrients and remove waste products from healing tissue—a critical component of regeneration. All these mechanisms are working in concert to assist with the rebuilding of the joint.