• Chronic Heel Pain – Alternative Treatment

    by Dr. Rahn A. Ravenell
    on Nov 14th, 2016

Heel pain, either on the bottom of the foot or back of the heel, is by far the number one symptom that brings patients to see me.  It makes sense given that three times your body weight is transferred through your feet with each step, the average person takes 8,000-10,000 steps per day, and the first part of your foot to touch the ground is the heel.  Symptoms are usually exacerbated when there is a foot deformity or when a patient lives a very active lifestyle.

  

Two of the most common causes of heel pain are plantar fasciitis (on the bottom of the heel), and Achilles tendonitis (on the back of the heel).  Both of these are caused by abnormal foot mechanics, either congenital or acquired, that have caused there to be some tightness within the plantar ligament of the bottom of the foot or the Achilles tendon.  Conservative therapy including stretching, icing, custom orthotics, and oral anti-inflammatories have proven highly beneficial in a large majority of cases, however 5-10% of sufferers with heel pain do go on to need advanced intervention.  Sometimes that includes cortisone injections and even surgery, but today I am going to discuss a new state-of-the-art therapy that is showing positive results without the need for surgery.

The alternative treatment I am talking about is called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).  It is a treatment that has been employed for a little over 10 years. It has been successful in elite athletes like Tiger Woods (knee) and Rafael Nadal (knee) to quickly repair tendon and ligament injuries, decrease pain, and get them back to elite performing status.  Recently there have been some promising results for its use in the foot without the need for surgery.

PRP is plasma (the liquid portion of blood) with a very high concentration of platelets.  This is key because platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors, which are very important in the healing of injuries.  The blood is drawn from the patient, and the platelets are isolated by centrifuge and re-injected back into the patient into the site of injury or pain.  Advantages of this procedure include avoidance of surgery, early return to normal activities of daily living, and minimal discomfort.

Dr. Rahn Ravenell has been using PRP for 3 years to augment tendon repairs and other reconstructive surgical procedures to aid in healing. This treatment is currently being offered as an alternative to surgical intervention for chronic plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.  Give his Mt. Pleasant, SC office a call, or visit www.mtpleasantfootdoc.com to schedule a consultation to determine if PRP is right for you.


 

Author Dr. Rahn A. Ravenell

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