Achilles tendinitis is a leading cause of pain in the calf or heel, especially for runners and athletes. Caused by inflammation in the Achilles tendon, there are several ways to relieve this condition. Yet many patients prefer to tap into their own bodies’ ability to heal. That’s why we offer regenerative medicine treatments at my podiatry practice in Houston, TX. And it’s why we’re now treating Achilles tendinitis with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).
What Causes Achilles Tendinitis?
Your Achilles tendon is one of the strongest and largest in the body. It runs along the back of your leg, from your knee to your heel bone. Due to its size and strength, the Achilles tendon plays a role in every step you take. In fact, it’s involved every time you move your leg.
Now, all that activity can tug at the tendon. So, if there’s too much strain in the Achilles, it develops the inflammation of Achilles tendinitis, a condition that’s almost always an overuse injury.
Still, in some cases, your body’s own structure puts pressure on the tendon. (We call that a biomechanical contributor.) Between high levels of activity among my patients, and structural challenges in your foot and ankle, I see many different pathways to Achilles tendinitis.
As I mentioned, repetitive stress or strain can trigger inflammation in your Achilles tendon. This could be because you skipped a pre workout stretch or warm-up, or because your workout hot your calf muscles hard.
In other cases, suddenly upping your workout routine leads to problems. That’s why many people who start training for a marathon or triathlon develop Achilles tendinitis for the first time. But even if you aren’t running faster or longer, simply playing a sport that requires fast lateral movements can strain your tendon. And that’s why basketball and tennis players often develop Achilles tendonitis.
In some cases, your biomechanics causes tendonitis. If your legs are different lengths—called a leg length discrepancy—or if you have high or flat arches, your body’s own construction could stress your Achilles tendon. In these cases, we can resolve your Achilles tendinitis pain with Platelet Rich Plasma, but we’ll need to also address the biomechanical challenges or inflammation will return.
Addressing Causes of Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms
If biomechanical challenges contribute to your Achilles tendinitis, I’ll recommend you get fitted for custom orthotics to correct your faulty foot mechanics. In turn, you’ll experience less stress on your Achilles tendon, keeping pain and inflammation from returning after your regenerative treatment with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).
What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Achilles Tendinitis?
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is an injectable treatment that speeds up your recovery time. But unlike a cortisone injection, PRP uses your own blood’s platelets to induce healing. How does this work? PRP increases blood flow to your inflamed tendon, also causing it to be surrounded by small blood clots that direct healing factors to the area. This helps resolve pain at a faster rate, and also speeds up healthy tissue development.
But Wait, What is Plasma?
Plasma is the fluid portion of your blood that carries blood cells, stem cells, and healing platelets around your body. It’s also rich in proteins that allow your body to form new, healthy cells.
When I inject PRP into the area surrounding your Achilles tendon, that delivers a concentrated collection of proteins and platelets to the area. This helps your body heal any injured tissue so you can enjoy a fast and natural recovery.
What Are Platelets?
Platelets are the cells that respond to an injury and repair any damage. They contain growth factors that also attract additional cells that can repair your injured tissue to speed your healing.
Understanding PRP Injections for Achilles
About one week before PRP treatments, you have to avoid all oral anti-inflammatory medications since they stop platelet production in your body. Then, when you come into the office, I take your blood specimen in several vials. Next, they enter our centrifuge for fast spinning.
This process separates your blood into its individual parts. That allows plasma to rise to the top of the vial, so I can siphon it off to secure a packed sample of concentrated proteins and platelets. That all goes into a syringe for your injection.
Now, just before the PRP injection, I’ll numb the area so you don’t have to worry about discomfort. Then I’ll target the delivery using my diagnostic ultrasound. This allows me to pinpoint the worst areas of inflammation. Once I do, I’ll injection your PRP directly to the source of inflammation to begin treating Achilles tendinitis using platelet rich plasma.
What Happens After PRP?
You can go home right after this outpatient procedure, which I perform in my office. Depending on your condition, you may have to rest moderately for the next few days, avoid strenuous exercise or activities.
Some patients feel mild irritation at their injection site, but most experience no other side effects. Still, if you have discomfort after PRP treatment, you can take acetaminophen or use cold compresses at the injection site. You cannot take anti-inflammatory medications for 48 hours after treating Achilles tendinitis using Platelet Rich Plasma.
Combining PRP and Shockwave Therapy for Achilles Tendon Pain
I also offer other regenerative medicine treatments in my office, and one works especially well with PRP: Shockwave Therapy (EPAT). This non-invasive treatment also helps your body heal itself. In combination with PRP, it can dramatically speed healing time.
As an added bonus, Shockwave Therapy sessions are speedy, lasting 10 minutes or less. As a result, we can even give you a Shockwave treatment while we process your PRR blood samples. Learn more about treating Achilles tendinitis with Shockwave Therapy here. And be sure to ask us how combining EPAT treatment with Platelet Rich Plasma can help you heal faster.
PRP Treatment for Achilles Tendinitis in Houston, TX
As a podiatrist in Houston, TX, I’ve found you get the best results with the XCell PRP system from Apex Biologix. It delivers high platelet and cell concentrations in my PRP injections. The results? More lasting pain relief! Which is why I invite you to call in and ask us about treating Achilles tendinitis using Platelet Rich Plasma. Or use this link to request an immediate appointment.