Growth factor therapy, also known as regenerative injection therapy (RIT) is one of the most promising and safe alternatives to managing chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis or injury. Many people refer to it as stem cell therapy, but there are actually no stem cells in the fluid. Amniotic fluid contains growth factors which start the body’s own process.

The human body has an innate ability to heal. The problem is that some places in our bodies are deprived of circulation (blood flow) and cannot recruit enough cells to help signal and stimulate healing. Doctors have known for centuries that if they stimulate these areas in some capacity the body will respond. With that in mind, techniques are being used to initiate a healing response.

Damaged or diseased ligaments, tendons, joints, plantar fasciitis and heel pain all may benefit from RIT. Unlike cortisone injections, which broadly suppress inflammation and stop the healing process, RIT promotes healing via a process for the body to replace, repair, reprogram or renew diseased or injured cells. As new and healthy tissue is formed, function returns and pain resolves. One way we do this is by injecting an amniotic-derived fluid supplement directly into the affected area or joint.

What is amniotic fluid or amniotic-derived?

Amniotic fluid is made up of growth factors and cytokines. Growth factors stimulate cellular growth and healing. Cytokines are important in cell signaling and regulate inflammation. They help to recruit your own local tissue stem cells to serve as a repair system for the body. This is possible because stem cells have the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body such as blood, tissue, bone, and muscle.  Growth factors jump start and maintain regeneration of new tissues which contributes to healing. They can be compared to a magnet, attracting specific cells to begin the growth of new tissue and to aid in the remodeling of damaged, old tissue.

Amniotic fluid also has protease inhibitors, hyaluronic acid, natural anti-inflammatory agents, and angiogenic growth factors.  Protease inhibitors aid in halting damage to cartilage in an arthritic joint. Hyaluronic acid acts as visco-supplementation, potentially easing painful symptoms that come with 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 vital component of regeneration.

How does it aid in healing?

The different factors in amniotic fluid all contribute to triggering the body’s natural healing response to potentially help strengthen and repair the area.

To understand how all the pieces work together, think of your body as a garden. Your injured joint is like the corner of the bed that struggles to sustain anything green.  To make something grow, the gardener plants seeds, makes certain there’s plenty of water and fertilizer, wards off bugs and provides just enough shade.  The doctor does the same thing to help heal your damaged spot with RIT.  It helps recruit your own local tissue stem cells that act like seeds hoping to bring new life to the area, the growth factors are like water and fertilizer, providing nutrients and attracting stem cells from your own body to help initiate healing.  The protease inhibitors prevent further damage from occurring just like bug-spray keeps the aphids from eating the leaves and the hyaluronic acid is like shade providing a pleasant environment to grow. Together they help trigger your body to respond with the different factors in the fluid.

How do we know the amniotic fluid is “clean”?

The American Association of Tissue Banks, which is monitored by the FDA, oversees the facilities that process or produce amniotic fluid or amniotic-derived fluid to ensure safety.  These fluid products are shown to be immune privileged, meaning there is a very low risk that the body will react poorly to it or try to reject the fluid.

What conditions may respond to RIT?

–          Osteoarthritic Joints

–          Tendonitis/Tendinosis

–          Capsulitis

–          Muscle, Tendon, & Ligament Tears

–          Heel Pain/Plantar Fasciitis

–          Ankle pain

–          Peripheral Neuropathy

–          Post-Surgical Pain

–          Chronic Injury

–          Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Is it right for me?

This offers a natural and safe alternative to traditional treatments.  Because this therapy has the potential to regrow cells and offers pain relief, it may reduce and, in some cases, eliminate the need for surgery.  It also offers hope to those who are not able to have surgery.

If you are having foot pain, you are much more likely to suffer from a variety of other health issues, such as back, knee and joint pain, as well as heart problems. Seeing one of our doctors at the first signs of a problem can help you stay on your feet and keep your body healthy.

 Foot pain is not normal at any age. When your feet hurt, they are sending you a message that something isn’t right. Don’t ignore it. Changing shoes, resting and icing may help, but if pain persists, you should make an appointment to see one of our doctors.