Because we put a high priority on being able to offer our patients the most advanced treatments, our team has brought in several advanced technology and regenerative medicine therapies in recent years.
Naturally, this leads to a lot of questions from our patients! In particular, we get a lot of questions about AmnioFix, a treatment that’s sometimes casually described as a “stem cell therapy” (although that’s not quite accurate—we’ll explain in a minute).
Fortunately for you, we also put a high priority on patient education and making sure you understand and feel comfortable with any treatment we might recommend. So we wrote this blog to help answer your burning questions about stem cells, AmnioFix therapy in particular, and other regenerative therapy treatments available at our office.
What Is Regenerative Medicine?
The short answer is that regenerative medicine techniques are focused on accelerating your body’s existing tissue repair systems to regrow or regenerate damaged cells, rather than simply relieving pain or fixing things surgically.
Exciting advances in this field are giving us tools and techniques to not just make you feel better, but to actually restore health and function to parts of your body that have been injured. In many cases we’re able to quickly fix a longstanding issue (Dr. Molan healed his own tennis elbow with just a few treatments!), significantly shorten the recovery time from an acute injury, or even help you avoid surgery.
What Are Stem Cells?
When cells become damaged or simply worn out, neighboring healthy cells divide and multiply so that they can replace them.
Normal cells can only divide into new cells of the same type—muscle replaces muscle, skin replaces skin, etc. However, stem cells are “undifferentiated” meaning they can divide and grow into one of many different types of cell the body may require. This makes them extremely useful for injury repair.
Don’t Stem Cells Only Come From Unborn Babies?
No, not exactly.
Embryonic stem cells are only found in utero and are pluripotent, meaning that any stem cell can become any other type of cell the body might need.
Adult (or “somatic”) stem cells are a little different. They can still become different types of cells, but they aren’t necessarily pluripotent—they are more restricted in terms of what they can become, and may only be able to replace cells related to the organ or system in which they reside.
Is AmnioFix a Stem Cell Treatment?
Yes and no.
AmnioFix itself does not contain any whole, living stem cells. It is made from genetic material of the amniotic membrane surrounding a baby after birth, broken down and preserved. This makes it rich with regenerative growth factors and proteins, but these are not stem cells per se.
However, these regenerative proteins do signal the stem cells you already have, and cause them to accelerate their healing and repair mechanisms. So (adult) stem cells are involved in the process—you’re just not being injected with them.
How Is the Amniotic Material Donated? Is It Safe for the Baby?
AmnioFix is 100% safe for mother and baby.
All the amniotic tissue used to make AmnioFix is voluntarily donated by mothers who have healthy babies delivered by scheduled Caesarian sections. There are no other circumstances under which tissue donation is permitted—no abortions, no unexpected deliveries, all 100% consenting and voluntary.
The donation process does not harm or put mother or baby at risk in any way, and under normal circumstances the tissue would be discarded anyway. This is not embryonic tissue—only the amniotic and placental tissue that surrounds the baby in the womb.
Donation allows it to be used to help others, rather than wind up as medical waste.
Is It Safe for Me?
Amniotic tissue in some form has been used to help treat injuries for 100 years. The donated tissue that is used for AmnioFix is rigorously tested for any infections or diseases, thoroughly cleansed and sterilized, and preserved.
The only observed side effects are mild tenderness and redness of the injection site after the procedure, which may last for 2-3 days. There are no known or reported major side effects, and no risk that the tissue will be rejected.
I’m Still Not Comfortable. Do You Have Any Alternatives?
Glad you asked.
While we 100% stand behind AmnioFix as a safe, healthy, and ethical treatment option that can bring rapid healing and pain relief without harming anyone else, we also want to you to be 100% comfortable with any treatment procedure we might prescribe.
That’s why we also provide a range of regenerative medical therapies designed to help accelerate tissue healing and overcome chronic pain through non-surgical means. Depending on your circumstance, one or more of the following treatment options may be a viable alternative:
- Platelet-Rich Plasma. This treatment is similar AmnioFix in terms of how it works, but it uses growth factors derived from your own blood rather than from amniotic tissue. It does require drawing a sample of your blood and may not be quite as effective as AmnioFix (with possibly more post-procedure discomfort), but may be appropriate in many cases.
- MLS laser therapy. Instead of a regenerative injection, the MLS laser stimulates cellular activity using a pair of therapeutic lasers. It’s completely painless and non-invasive, and many people often start to feel better right away; however, you may need a treatment course of 7-10 brief sessions (15 minutes each) once or twice per week to achieve the same results.
- SoftWave acoustic wave therapy. This treatment uses gentle acoustic waves, delivered into your tissues via a wand (no needles/injections), to safely trigger the release of cellular RNA and accelerate healing. As with MLS laser, treatment courses vary but it may take several weeks to achieve the full benefits.
All these treatments work a bit differently and do some slightly different things, but for many painful foot and ankle conditions they can all be effective.
At your appointment, we’ll carefully review all the pros and cons of each treatment to help you decide which (if any) may be the right choice for you.
To schedule an appointment with one of our experts, please fill out an online contact form or call your preferred office location at one of the numbers below:
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253