Many of our Houston patients like treating plantar fasciitis without invasive procedures or prescription medications. Even more importantly, they want pain relief without extended rest periods. So, to promote more natural healing, we now offer Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for heel pain. Now, we’ve seen great results with this procedure. And we're not alone, since a recent study in the journal Cureus revealed that heel pain patients treated with PRP showed significant improvement compared to those treated with other methods. In a minute, we'll explain why this regenerative medicine treatment option gives superior relief. But first, let's take a closer look at what causes plantar fasciitis.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis describes a condition in which your plantar fascia develops inflammation. It’s one of the most common causes of heel pain as well as arch pain. Most often, if you have plantar fasciitis, you’ll experience the worst pain first thing in the morning, right after you get out of bed. Early on, your symptoms disappear as you move through your day. Unfortunately, unless you seek treatment, you will develop chronic heel pain.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia we just mentioned is a ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot. It begins where it attaches to your heel, running to your mid-foot. This ligament is designed to support your feet and promote stability.
Since it has such a big job, it takes a lot of impact. Because the plantar fascia absorbs the shock of every walk or run you take. That shock tugs on the ligament. Then, over time, the tugs trigger inflammation in your plantar fascia. Soon, you’re noticing the heel pain of plantar fasciitis.
Treating Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis leads to sharp, stabbing heel pain that's typically worst when you wake up, or get to your feet after a long time sitting down. As we mentioned, you may also develop arch pain when your plantar fascia’s inflamed. Or these symptoms can show up together.
Before we brought regenerative medicine to our podiatry practice in Houston, we had other ways to treat plantar fasciitis. And they were—and still are—effective. We can stretch your ligament to relieve your pain. Those stretches can be manual, or you can use a special device called the Alleviate arch massager that we now carry in the office.
Many patients find relief with anti-inflammatory medications, although you can’t choose this option if you’re pregnant. Now, many of our heel pain patients find lasting relief with custom orthotics since they compensate for biomechanical issues that hurt your ligament. As a result, we keep plantar fasciitis pain from returning. But it can take a while to find relief
Recently, more of our patients have been asking about regenerative medicine. They want more natural treatment options that deliver fast and lasting results. For that reason, I've started treating plantar fasciitis with Platelet Rich Plasma.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis?
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a treatment that we inject into your injured plantar fascia to speed up your recovery time. But what are we injecting, exactly? We’ll treat you with platelets from your own blood to increase circulation to your plantar fascia. After the injection, small blood clots will develop around your ligament, directing healing factors to the targeted area.
Not sure what constitutes plasma? This described the fluid portion of your blood. It’s how blood cells, stem cells, and healing platelets. Plasma also carries lots of proteins, so it helps your body form new, healthy cells.
When we inject PRP into the area surrounding your plantar fascia, its concentrated collection of platelets and proteins will help your body heal the injured tissue. That way, you can recover naturally and enjoy faster pain relief.
What Exactly Are Platelets?
When you get hurt, your body quickly sends platelets to the site of the injury to repair the damage. These specialized cells contain growth factors, and that draws other reparative cells to the injured tissue to fuel faster healing.
What to Expect with PRP Injections for Plantar Fasciitis
About one week before your PRP injection, you must stop taking all oral anti-inflammatory medications. Why? Anti-inflammatory medications, keep your body from producing platelets. And if that happens, we won’t be able to give you a well-concentrated injection when it’s time for treatment.
A week after stopping ibuprofen or naproxen, you’ll come into the office, and we’ll draw a specimen of your blood. Next, we’ll place your samples in a centrifuge, where the machine will spin them at a fast pace. During this process, your blood separates. Luckily, the plasma layer rises to the top of the vial, where we can siphon it away, leaving behind a sample packed with concentrated platelets and proteins. Now, we draw this blood portion into a syringe, and it’s time for your injection.
Squeamish about needles? Don’t worry. Before the PRP injection, we first give you a smaller, numbing injection. Then, using our diagnostic ultrasound, we’ll pinpoint the section of your plantar fascia with the worst inflammation. Finally, we’ll make the injection into that targeted spot, to being treating plantar fasciitis using platelet rich plasma.
What Happens After a PRP Injection?
You’ll receive a PRP injection in my office, which is why we call this an outpatient procedure. You can go home right after the procedure is complete, but you may need to avoid strenuous exercise or activity for a few days following your injection.
During that period, you may feel mild irritation at the injection site, but most people say they are pain free with no other side effects from a PRP injection. How could that be? Unlike with a cortisone injection, where we put a foreign substance into your body, this injection just direct your own blood to the site of inflammation. All that’s different from what’s flowing through your veins is a higher concentration of blood platelets, proteins, and growth factors. And those all work together to jumpstart the healing process.
Now, if you’re one of the few patients who experience discomfort after treatment, you can take acetaminophen or apply cold compresses to the injection site. Just steer clear of anti-inflammatory medications for 48 hours after treating plantar fasciitis using Platelet Rich Plasma. And make sure to call the office if you experience any kind of swelling or pain.
Combining PRP and Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis
We also use other forms of regenerative medicine to treat heel pain in the office. And one tool for plantar fasciitis that works well with PRP is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (EPAT). This is a non-invasive treatment that also helps your body heal itself. So it works well for plantar fasciitis in combination with PRP, or on its own.
Plus, each Shockwave Therapy session lasts 10 minutes or less. So you can quickly schedule a treatment while we’re processing your blood samples to prepare your PRP injection for heel pain. Learn more about treating plantar fasciitis with Shockwave Therapy here. And be sure to ask us how combining EPAT treatment with a Platelet Rich Plasma injection can dramatically reduce your healing time.
PRP Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis in Houston
In our Tanglewood Foot Specialists office, we use the XCell PRP system, state of the art technology from Apex Biologix. We chose it because it delivers high platelet and cell concentrations in the Platelet-Rich Plasma injections. As such, this system provides you with more lasting pain relief.
We invite you to call your podiatrist in Houston, TX to discuss treating plantar fasciitis using Platelet Rich Plasma. Or follow this link to request an immediate appointment.