Chronic Heel Pain – Alternative Treatment

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 Regenerative Cell Injection Therapy (sometimes refered to as stem cell injections).  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.  Both of them had platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections which require drawing of patient's blood. However, recently there have been some promising results from a similar concept that does not require drawing the patient's blood, but by relying on donor cells from amniotic tissue.

Amniotic cell injections contain growth factors similar to those found in PRP, however, they also contain hyaluronic acid, and other proteins and substances not found in PRP which can aid in tissue repair and regeneration. Advantages of this procedure include no blood draw, avoidance of surgery, early return to normal activities of daily living, and minimal discomfort.

Dr. Rahn Ravenell has been using PRP for over 9 years to augment tendon repairs and other reconstructive surgical procedures to aid in healing, and has recently transitioned to amniotic cell injection due to its relatively simple application with similar or better results. 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 to schedule a consultation to determine if amniotic cell injection is right for you.


Dr. Rahn A. Ravenell

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