What to Expect During and After Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is one of the most cutting-edge treatments for patients with arthritis and other joint conditions. At the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, our podiatrists are specially trained and skilled in offering this specialized therapy.

If we recommend stem cell therapy to you for Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, ankle arthritis, or another soft tissue injury, you probably are wondering exactly what to expect during and after the treatment. Read on to find out more about the procedure and healing.

Stem cell basics

Stem cells are special types of cells that can morph into whatever type of cell is needed a specific site for healing. For example, certain cells are specialized as cardiac or skin cells. Stem cells, though, can become these types of cells if your body needs them.

When we inject stem cells into an injured joint — say, for example, your ankle — they trigger healing of soft tissue. They also offer anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial relief to speed healing and reduce pain. 

During stem cell therapy

When you come in for your stem cell appointment, we use stem cells that are prepared and purified. We thoroughly clean the area where you’ll receive treatment and prep it for injection. We then numb the injection site and administer the stem cells. 

The actual procedure takes less than two hours. Once we release you from our office, you return home, where you continue your recuperation.

Stem cell recovery

Immediately after your procedure, adhere to all the recommendations and restrictions we provide. These include avoiding anti-inflammatory medications and getting plenty of rest for the treated joint for the first 24-48 hours. You may have some pain after the first day or two, but this subsides relatively quickly. You may need to take off work for a day or two.

In the first weeks after stem cell therapy, you’ll notice some redness and possible swelling in the treated areas as your immune system starts the healing process. We’ll advise you when you can begin light movement, such as easy walking or light lifting during household chores.

Continue to avoid anti-inflammatory medications, which hinder stem cell function, and use heat and cold therapy to manage pain.

In about one month, you may start more rigorous physical therapy and non-impact activity, such as pool work or elliptical training.

By week six, our specialists at the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine may clear you for light (really light) weight training and additional exercise time. But this is the time during which your stem cells are promoting the development of new tissue, so you don’t want to overdo it and risk the healing process.

In months 3-6, the stem cells reach the peak of their healing potential. We can help you manage activity and not do too much too soon. You’ll probably feel pretty good at this point and notice measurable improvement in pain and function.

For more information about stem cell therapy and how it can help you heal without invasive surgery, call us at the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine or schedule your appointment using this website. 

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