The achilles tendon is one of the strongest and most important tendons in the human body. When patient’s have pain of their achilles tendon it is usually caused by an overuse injury or from trauma. Trauma can happen any where and a perfect example of this is my last grocery store visit. My wife and I were shopping for our weekly groceries and my job is to follow her around and make sure the kids are not tearing up the store. For a split second my mind drifted and I accidentally slammed the cart into the back of my wife’s ankle. After a solid minute of apologizing she felt her pain localize to the insertion of her achilles tendon. This mundane activity resulted in a traumatic incident and I will probably never live it down.
Achilles tendonitis is a very common problem and it can be easily treated with many different therapeutic methods. My father, who is a physician, and a horrible patient, has been battling with his tendonitis for about a year. We have tried heel lifts, boots, icing, resting, and physical therapy. The only treatment that helped him was the heel lifts and so that is what we stuck with. After a while his pain progressively became worse and that’s when we had to try something different. At Advanced Podiatry we utilize the bodies own cells to heal problem areas. Platelet rich plasma or PRP is a treatment method which utilizes the patient’s own cells and nutrients to repair damaged tissue and decrease pain. My father was very excited to try this treatment because it natural, minimally invasive, and the recovery period is short. He flew in from Chicago, had the procedure on Monday, wore a boot, and left saturday after spending time with my kids. He reported that his pain was minimal for the first 2 days and that he was happy that he could still walk around and enjoy his grand kids.
The procedure is quite simple. We have a phlebotomist harvest a small amount of the patient’s blood and then we place this blood in a specialized machine which separates and concentrates the blood into its components. We then take special care to attain the portion of blood which has a super rich plasma concentration. This plasma component of blood contains growth factors which can induce faster healing times and decreased scarring. The harvested component is then injected into the achilles tendon at its insertion into the heel bone and at the site of any defects. Ultrasound guidance is utilized in order to ensure proper placement of all the PRP in order to produce consistent and effective results. After the procedure, a dressing is placed over the injection sites and the patient is placed into a walking boot.
The patient after the procedure is to not use ice or any anti-inflammatory medication so that we do not prevent the PRP from working. Swelling is a needed side effect so that the tendon can be repaired by the bodies own cells. The swelling is a result of the PRP calling on the body to send the healing growth factors to the area thus resulting in faster healing. This technique is very desirable because this eliminates the need for surgery. PRP therapy is not for everyone but the majority of patients can utilize this technique. At Advanced Podiatry we strive to be at the cutting edge of medicine and PRP therapy is one technique that proves that. Please call to make an appointment to discuss your non-surgical options in healing your foot pain.