State of the Art Stem Cells Provide Relief of Foot Pain




State of the Art Stem Cells Provide Relief of Foot Pain

Foot and ankle pain is the most common complaint I treat on a daily basis. Many of these problems are caused by a new or old fracture or sports related injury, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, acute and degenerative arthritis or scar tissue. I have been utilizing a relatively new and exciting treatment option, which is now available to treat many of these conditions, which would typically require surgery in the past. Injecting the patient’s own stem cells into the injured or painful area has become an exciting, safe and very effective, non-surgical treatment.

The use of stem cells in joint, bone, tendon and soft tissue injuries is one of the most exciting developments in medicine in recent memory. The promise of repairing damaged tissue with the patient’s own normal functioning cells instead of scar tissue is amazing. Stem cell research is occurring in most major medical centers in the U.S and around the world for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, COPD (lung disease) and many others.

What is a stem cell?

The human body is made up of cells. A heart muscle cell looks and functions differently than a nerve or muscle cell. Initially they all came from a one-celled embryo that divided and changed. As the body formed this initial cell grew into separate and different cell types. Stem cells are remnants of those early cells with the potential to become any of the specialized cells that make up a human body and are found in our bone marrow.

Why stem cells?

The promise of stem cells is that once collected from you and re-injected into your injured or damaged area, the cells will alter the local cell environment and they can be used to fix damaged tissue. Different tissues have different ability to repair itself, however if they cannot, the best the body can often do is form fibrous scar tissue. If you have cartilage damage that causes arthritis, stem cells can potentially change into new cartilage. If you have a chronic tendon injury or tear, the tendon can heal itself with new tendon cells versus scar tissue.

Where do the stem cells come from?

Stem cells come from you! Not a company, donor or laboratory. To date, stem cells can be derived from bone marrow, fat tissue and blood. Typically cells are collected by a simple blood draw (similar to having a blood test) or from a small needle into the heel bone.


Where can stem cells be used?

Stem cell injections are used for many foot and ankle conditions, including;

Non-healing fractures

Tendon injuries

Chronic ankle sprains

Ligament injuries


Achilles tendonitis

Plantar fasciitis

Joint arthritis

Wound healing


I have been using stem cells that are derived from the patient’s own bone marrow because they have been shown to provide the greatest healing potential. Once obtained, the blood is placed into a machine, similar to a centrifuge, which “spins” the blood and separates the stem cells. The stem cell rich portion is then injected into the injured or damaged area where they almost immediately begin to multiply and flourish. Stem cells have been found to replicate themselves and nearby cells begin to mimic them making healing possible and producing an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce pain. Additionally, stem cell injections contain hyaluronic acid (a naturally occurring protein), which lubricates joints and tendons, easing pain and helping restore mobility. It is a procedure that can be done comfortably under local or twilight anesthesia and takes 30-40 minutes.

Feel free to call the office at 201-261-0500 for an appointment to see if your condition can be treated by stem cell injection.

What is Arthritis?

Dr. Vincent Giacalone

Dr. Vincent Giacalone
Podiatric Medicine & Surgery
466 Hook Rd., Suite 24D, Emerson, NJ 07630
Phone: 201-261-0500

What is Arthritis?
Arthritis, in general terms, is inflammation, swelling and damage of the cartilage and lining of the joints, generally accompanied by an increase in the fluid in the joints. Arthritis has multiple causes; just as a sore throat may have different causes, so joint inflammation and arthritis are associated with many different illnesses.

Arthritis and the Feet
Arthritis is a frequent component of complex diseases that may involve more than 100 identifiable disorders. If the feet seem more susceptible to arthritis than other parts of the body, it is because each foot has 33 joints that can be afflicted, and there is no way to avoid the pain of the tremendous weight-bearing load on the feet. Arthritis is a disabling and occasionally crippling disease; it afflicts almost 40 million Americans. In some forms, it appears to have hereditary tendencies. While the prevalence of arthritis increases with age, all people from infancy to middle age are potential victims. People over 50 are the primary targets. Arthritic feet can result in loss of mobility and independence, but that may be avoided with early diagnosis and proper medical care.

Some Causes
Besides heredity, arthritic symptoms may arise in a number of ways:
Through injuries, notably in athletes and industrial workers, especially if the injuries have been ignored
Through bacterial and viral infections that strike the joints. The same organisms that are present in pneumonia, gonorrhea, staph infections, and Lyme disease cause the inflammations.
In conjunction with bowel disorders such as colitis and ileitis, frequently resulting in arthritic conditions in the joints of the ankles and toes. Such inflammatory bowel diseases seem distant from arthritis, but treating them can relieve arthritic pain.
Using drugs, both prescription drugs and illegal street drugs, can induce arthritis.
As part of a congenital autoimmune disease syndrome of undetermined origin. Recent research has suggested, for instance, that a defective gene may play a role in osteoarthritis.
Because arthritis can affect the structure and function of the feet it is important to see Dr. Giacalone if any of the following symptoms occur in the feet:

  • Swelling in one or more joints
  • Recurring pain or tenderness in any joint
  • Redness or heat in a joint
  • Limitation in motion of joint
  • Early morning stiffness
  • Skin changes, including rashes and growths

Some Forms of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is frequently called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. Although it can be brought on suddenly by an injury, its onset is generally gradual; aging brings on a breakdown in cartilage, and pain gets progressively more severe, although it can be relieved with rest. Dull, throbbing nighttime pain is characteristic, and it may be accompanied by muscle weakness or deterioration. Walking may become difficult. It is a particular problem for the feet when people are overweight, simply because there are so many joints in each foot. The additional weight contributes to the deterioration of cartilage and the development of bone spurs.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a major disorder and perhaps the most serious form of arthritis. It is a complex, chronic inflammatory system of diseases, often affecting more than a dozen smaller joints during the course of the disease, frequently in a symmetrical pattern, both ankles, or the index fingers of both hands, for example. It is often accompanied by signs and symptoms such as lengthy morning stiffness, fatigue, and weight loss and it may affect various systems of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, heart, and nervous system. Women are three or four times more likely than men to suffer RA. Rheumatoid Arthritis has a much more acute onset than osteoarthritis. It is characterized by alternating periods of remission, during which symptoms disappear, and exacerbation, marked by the return of inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Serious joint deformity and loss of motion frequently result from acute rheumatoid arthritis. However, the disease system has been known to be active for months, or years, then abate, sometimes permanently.

Gout (gouty arthritis) is a condition caused by a buildup of the salts of uric acid, a normal byproduct of the diet, in the joints. A single big toe joint is commonly the affected area, possibly because it is subject to so much pressure in walking; attacks of gouty arthritis are extremely painful, perhaps more so than any other form of arthritis. Men are much more likely to be afflicted than women, an indication that heredity may play a role in the disease. While a rich diet that contains lots of red meat, rich sauces, shellfish, and brandy is popularly associated with gout, there are other protein compounds in foods such as lentils and beans that may play a role.

Different forms of arthritis affect the body in different ways; many have distinct systemic affects that are not common to other forms. Early diagnosis is important to effective treatment of any form. Destruction of cartilage is not reversible, and if the inflammation of arthritic disease isn’t treated, both cartilage and bone can be damaged, which makes the joints increasingly difficult to move. Most forms of arthritis cannot be cured but can be controlled or brought into remission; perhaps only five percent of the most serious cases, usually of rheumatoid arthritis, result in such severe crippling that walking aids or wheelchairs are required.

The objectives in the treatment of arthritis are controlling inflammation, preserving joint function (or restoring it if it has been lost), and curing the disease if that is possible. Arthritis may be treated in many ways. Patient education is important. Physical therapy and exercise may be indicated, accompanied by medication. In such a complex disease system, it is no wonder that a wide variety of drugs have been used effectively to treat it; likewise, a given treatment may be very effective in one patient and almost no help at all to another. Aspirin is still the first-line drug of choice for most forms of arthritis and the benchmark against which other therapies are measured. The control of foot functions with shoe inserts called orthotics, or with braces or specially prescribed shoes, may be recommended. Surgical intervention is a last resort in arthritis, as it is with most disease conditions; the replacement of damaged joints with artificial joints is a possible surgical procedure.

Dr. Giacalone has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of foot disorders. Dr. Giacalone has been board certified by The American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and The American Board of Podiatric Surgery since 1993 and 1995 respectively and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Giacalone performs surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Hackensack University Medical Center @ Pascack Valley in Westwood and Surgicare Surgical Center in Oradell.