Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects many people as they begin to get older. It causes pain in the feet and can be very painful, making it difficult to walk, stand for long periods of time, and perform many activities and hobbies. The treatments used for this issue are generally quite traditional, and their effectiveness can vary from person to person. However, regenerative medicine treatments are becoming an increasingly popular method to treat plantar fasciitis, and there are a few different therapy options available.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects the fascia that runs the length of the foot. This fascia is a thick band of tissue connecting your toes to your heel, and it can become inflamed, causing pain in the bottom of the foot. This pain is most commonly noted in the heel, and it is often stabbing in nature.
The fascia on the foot serves as a shock-absorbing system for the body, helping to deal with stress or tension placed on the foot. If the fascia is forced to do too much, it can end up developing small micro tears. When the body tries to heal these tears, it can cause the bottom of the feet to become swollen, irritated, and inflamed.
Plantar fasciitis is most commonly found in individuals who participate in activities that place large amounts of stress on the foot, such as running, jumping, and dancing. Individuals who are over the age of 40 or are overweight are also at higher risk for developing this condition. In addition, having high arches or an irregular walking pattern can also increase risk.
Oftentimes, plantar fasciitis is worse first thing in the morning or after you have been exercising or standing for longer periods of time. The symptoms often do not manifest themselves during exercise, but can arise afterwards.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
In most cases, plantar fasciitis symptoms are addressed with stretching, icing the feet, splinting, activity reduction or rest, and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling. Steroid injections are also commonly used to address this pain. However, these treatment options are not 100 percent effective, and even if they do work, plantar fasciitis symptoms can return.
Regenerative medicine therapies provide longer-lasting pain relief options, and they do so without being highly invasive. Two of the most promising treatment options are platelet rich plasma injections and the use of amniotic tissue graft products.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet rich plasma therapy involves injecting a person’s own blood plasma into the affected area to promote tissue healing. The plasma portion of the blood contains platelets, growth factors, and various inflammatory markers. Platelet rich plasma, also known as PRP, is a portion of this plasma that has a high concentration of these various components.
These components are the exact things that are already responsible for repairing damaged tissues, so having a high concentration of them allows the sample to be very effective for healing, Since the plasma can be inserted directly into the affected area, it allows precise placement to further speed up the healing process.
Many studies have been done on the effectiveness of PRP for treating plantar fasciitis. One study of 25 patients noted that 88 percent of patients were completely satisfied with this treatment and reported little to no pain 10 months after treatment. During this same period of time, pain levels decreased from 9.1 to just 1.6.
A review looked at nine individual studies and found that PRP treatment lowered pain levels significantly more than steroid injections. They noted that while steroid treatments may be somewhat effective for a short time, the pain often returned after 24 weeks. Those receiving PRP injections did not report pain increases.
AmnioFix is an amniotic tissue graft treatment option available for plantar fasciitis treatment. AmnioFix uses a membrane developed from the tissues of a human placenta. Similarly to PRP, these tissues also contain a high concentration of growth factors and cytokines. In addition, AmnioFix contains enzyme inhibitors and recruits stem cells as well, which both aid in tissue healing.
These tissues are processed using the Purion method, which results in a matrix-like membrane that can be inserted via injection. Image-guided techniques are used for this process, ensuring accurate and effective placement into damaged tissue.
One study of nearly 150 patients with plantar fasciitis found that pain levels were reduced with AmnioFix treatment by 78 percent at three months and 90 percent at six months. On the other hand, patients who received a placebo injection noted only a 46 percent and 57 percent pain reduction at three and six months respectively.
Both PRP and AmnioFix injection therapies show great promise for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, especially compared to the current pain management options, such as conservative care and steroid injections. These treatments have both been proven to provide long-lasting pain relief and have the ability to eliminate pain quickly and effectively.