Chronic achilles tendon injuries have commonly been the “achilles heel” for thousands of athletes, from professionals to weekend warriors. The painful degenerative condition can limit mobility during daily activities and inhibit maximal physical exertion. The achilles tendon which attaches the calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus, to the heel bone, plays a large role in force production, walking, and performance of the lower body. In addition, the Achilles tendon is known to have much longer recovery times due to its decreased blood supply, and consistent use throughout everyday life. Currently, conservative methods for treatment include immobilization, correcting physical asymmetries, rehab exercises, low level light therapy, and ultrasound. However, recent literature has examined other non invasive methods for improving healing time and results.
A recent case study examined the effects of ultrasound guided autologous BMC stem cell injections in a 56 year old female with a chronic achilles tendinopathy. The woman received an injection of concentrated bone marrow with mesenchymal stem cells into the site of degeneration in the achilles tendon. Eight weeks after the injection, the patient reported considerably less pain and had resumed daily activities and exercise. Her ankle was also significantly less tender and exhibited progression on MRI at 10 week follow up. This is the first reported case of successful treatment of Achilles tendinopathy with BMC. Larger randomized controlled studies are needed to completely evaluate the efficacy of BMC for achilles tendinopathy, and explore its potential as an alternative to more invasive surgical options. However, this case report supports an evolving mound of evidence suggesting a bright future for Orthobiologics, such as Bone Marrow Concentrate and Platelet Rich Plasma, in the Orthopedics.
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