The plantar fascia is a thick ligament in the sole of your foot that extends from the back of your heel to your toes. It stretches and contracts like a bowstring as you walk, helping to maintain your foot arch and absorb shock. If the fascia becomes inflamed, the resulting condition is known as plantar fasciitis; you can recognize it by the characteristic pain you feel in your heel.
Podiatric physician and board-certified foot surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and our team provide foot and ankle treatment for patients at Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, serving the Monroe Township area of New Jersey. That includes diagnosing and treating plantar fasciitis, a common podiatric condition that can affect your ability to walk comfortably.
One of the novel treatment options we provide is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, a regenerative medicine technique. Here’s how and why it works.
The basics of your plantar fascia
The plantar fascia is necessary for proper foot function. With normal movement, it supports your foot well. However, if you run and jump a lot, you may unduly stress the ligament over an extended period of time. This leads to small tears in the tissue, creating inflammation and, ultimately, pain in the heel.
Since the ligament naturally shortens and tightens as you sleep, the pain you feel is usually worse in the morning. As a result, when you get up, you’ll probably need to do some stretching exercises to get it to relax. If the inflammation is too severe, though, the ligament may not stretch enough to relieve the pain, and you may feel it throughout the day.
Risk factors for plantar fasciitis
A number of contributing factors lead to plantar fasciitis. As we’ve mentioned, stress from running, jumping, and other sports is a major factor, but it’s not the only one.
Being overweight, obese, or pregnant puts additonal weight on your feet, stressing the ligaments. Having flat feet or high arches, or wearing shoes without adequate arch and heel support, all distribute your weight unevenly, again causing stress. So does wearing high heels, which push your weight over the ball of your foot instead of across the sole.
If your calf muscles and/or your Achilles tendon are tight, it can directly impact the ability of the plantar fascia to stretch properly, causing pain. And all of the above can lead to an abnormal gait, which can lead to knee, hip, and/or back problems, further compounding the problem.
Treating your plantar fasciitis with PRP
Dr. Perel always treats problems conservatively to start. Some of the most common modalities include anti-inflammatory medications; physical therapy, including stretching exercises, hot/cold treatment, and ultrasound; MLS laser therapy, which reduces pain, inflammation, and swelling; cortisone injections to decrease inflammation and pain, allowing you to participate in physical therapy; and night splints to prevent your toes from pointing downward while you sleep, which shortens the fascia.
In addition to conservative therapies, Dr. Perel turns to regenerative medicine to give you relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) uses a sample of your own blood that contains healing and growth factors to encourage the fascia to heal more quickly.
We draw a small blood sample from your arm and spin it down in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets from the red and white cells. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting and for recruiting healing factors to an injured site. Contained within a watery plasma, Dr. Perel injects the platelets into the fascia to stimulate healing and speed up the process.
If you’re dealing with heel pain and an altered gait as a result, plantar fasciitis may be responsible. To get an accurate diagnosis and find out if PRP therapy is right for you, give Monroe Foot & Ankle Care a call at 732-521-6166, or book your appointment online with us today.