Best Los Angeles Ankle Surgeons Treat Ankle Arthritis with Stem Cell Therapy

Best Los Angeles Ankle Surgeons use Stem Cell Treatment for Ankle Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease and affects more than 20 million people in the United States alone. Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive cartilage degeneration with functional loss of motion at a joint. Although osteoarthritis can affect any joint, it most often will affect the weightbearing joints such as the knee, hip, foot, ankle, and spine. There are many contributing factors that may cause osteoarthritis, but it is most commonly caused by abnormal mechanics or loads on a joint, a mal-alignment of a joint, a previous infection in the joint, or a previous trauma to a joint.

Traditionally, osteoarthritis is treated with physical therapy, steroid injections into the joint, oral use of anti-inflammatory medication, lubrication injections, and life-style changes. For the ankle, the use of a brace may help stabilize the joint and prevent painful motion at the ankle. There are some surgical options that may help alleviate ankle pain from ankle arthritis, including ankle arthroscopy, joint distraction, cartilage replacement surgery, and spur removal. Should those preliminary procedures fail to give relief and the arthritis progresses, the end-stage treatment for osteoarthritis of the ankle is either ankle fusion or ankle replacement.

Stem Cell Treatment for Ankle Arthritis

Although ankle fusion or ankle joint replacement surgery for ankle arthritis is generally very successful, it does come with risk factors and a long recovery period. Recently, there have been advances in the use of stem cells to treat osteoarthritis in the area of cartilage repair as a minimally invasive procedure without the need for a major open reconstructive ankle surgery. In addition, there is a very minimal chance of rejection as the cells are harvested from the patient’s own body; usually from bone marrow or fat. Stem cells have the potential to develop into different cell types, including cartilage cells. In addition, they have properties which enhance the body’s repair mechanisms such as reducing inflammation, increasing healing potential, and reducing scarring.

The benefits of using stem cells to repair cartilage in arthritic joints are many and there seem to be minimal complications with their use. Additional research is needed in the area of stem cells for use in arthritic joints in humans, but preliminary studies in humans and rat models show promising results, and we may be approaching a cure for arthritis.

Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS
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Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Bob Baravarian is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist. He is currently a member of UCLA Medical Group, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Santa Monica/UCLA medical center and Orthopedic Hospital and an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. He also serves as co-director of University Foot and Ankle Institute. He is Editor Emeritus of the international medical journal, Foot and Ankle Specialist.

Dr. Baravarian has been involved in athletics his entire life and played competitive tennis in high school and college. He has an interest in sports medicine, arthritis therapy and trauma/reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He servers as a consultant to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tour, multiple running organizations and several shoe manufacturers. He is also fluent in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Farsi and Hebrew),

Podiatrist Dr. Bob Baravarian is available for consultation at the Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and UCLA Westwood offices.
Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS
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