Joint Preservation Blog

January 10, 2009

athletic ankle supports

ankle-support

As a doctor with an ankle problem, who is athletic, the best ankle brace I’ve found is the Malleoloc.  However, if you have an ankle problem like I did, why not ditch the ankle supports?  There are now new treatments where they inject your own stem cells into the ankle ligament tears to heal the damage.  This way you avoid athletic ankle supports and surgery!  This procedure should allow you to get rid of the athletic ankle supports for good.  In this minor procedure, your own adult stem cells are grown to larger numbers.  These repair cells are then injected into your torn ankle ligaments.  After this cutting edge procedure, you can wear an athletic ankle support for a few weeks, but continue working out while the ligaments mend.  You get to ditch the athletic ankle supports after just a month.  Why do these injections instead of supports?  An unstable ankle eventually damages the cartilage in the ankle and leads to early arthritis.  So what’s a little ankle pain now, will be an arthritis problem in the future, unless you heal the ankle ligaments.

basketball ankle supports

ankle brace

ankle brace

As a doctor with an ankle problem, who plays basketball, the best ankle brace I’ve found is the Malleoloc.  However, if you have an ankle problem like I did, why not get rid of the brace?  There are now new treatments where the doctor injects your own stem cells into the ankle ligament tear to heal the damage.  This way you avoid braces and surgery!  This procedure should allow you to get rid of the basketball ankle supports for good.  In this procedure, your own adult mesenchymal stem cells are isolated and then grown to larger numbers.  These healing repair cells are then injected into your torn ankle ligaments.  After this cutting edge procedure, you can wear a basketball ankle support for a few weeks, but continue playing and working out while the ligaments heal.  Maximum healing is 6-12 weeks.  You can come out of the basketball ankle supports after just a month.  Why go through all of this?  An unstable ankle eventually damages the cartilage in the ankle and leads to early arthritis.  So what’s a mild pain in the ankle now, will be big arthritis in 20 years, unless you get the ankle ligaments fixed.

January 2, 2009

Achilles Tendon Support Socks

The Achilles tendon can be weakened by injury or being overloaded.  Support socks for the Achilles tendon will add compression around the tendon which may allow it to feel like it has greater support.   In essence, this pressure gives the tendon more structure.  Look for support socks that place pressure on the tendon (the heel cord) without causing pain.  The need for support in the Achilles tendon is usually from a partialtear or chronically frayed tissue in the tendon.  Another way to treat this without surgery or bracing is to use the patients own stem cells to repair the tendon.  These are cells taken from the patient, grown in the lab, and then injected into the tendon so that they can orchestrate a healing response.  With this type of Achilles tendon repair therapy, the need for Achilles tendon support socks can be eliminated.  This type of Achilles tendon treatment is new to the US and holds great promise for making the tendon stronger.

December 23, 2008

ACL Laxity and Knee Braces

ACL Laxity and Knee Braces.  The ACL is the inner duct tape (otherwise known as a ligament) that holds the knee together in a front-back direction.  This means that it prevents the lower shin bone (tibia) from moving forward on the thigh bone (femur). This ligament can be stretched or torn completely.  In these cases the joint is said to be “lax” and in need of either surgical repair, non-surgical repair, or knee bracing.  Bracing a knee with ACL Laxity involves stabilizing the femur and tibia in a front-back direction. However, there are pros and cons.   One of the problems is that bracing still allows some movement, which ultimately injuries the joint.  Up until now, there has been no way to repair a stretch injury to the ACL without surgery. However, the development of injection based therapy for partial ACL tears and laxity has been a big advancement beyond surgical grafts.  As an example, the Regenexx procedurenow allows doctors to inject the patient’s own stem cells onto the stretched ACL ligament and tighten that ligament back to it’s normal strength and length.  This development allows the patient to get rid of the brace all together.  Since there is no surgery needed, the recovery is much quicker and bracing is only used for a few weeks after the procedure if the laxity is severe.  This newer technique doesn’t work when there is no ACL left, but only if there are ACL fibers that can still be detected on MRI.  

As a physician who treats patients with these injuries, the best brace is the one that fits well.  For general fitting and measuring instructions, click here. Also, I often advise my patients to consider getting a slightly used brace.  Ebay can be a great place to to find a knee brace that will help with ACL laxity.

Below is a short video on the topic of repairing ligament tears by injecting your own stem cells.  While this shows an ankle ligament example, this could just as easily be a partial ACL tear.

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