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Thursday 15 November 2018
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Consider PRP and Physical Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Foot pain is a seemingly chronic problem in the United States. According to the Flagstaff Business News and contributor Dr. Stephen Knecht, 80{ac15f71130453b01de68f6caab5e777d0a5c121b68e3ce09334b989286c5d23b} of Americans experience significant foot pain during their lifetimes. Some 20{ac15f71130453b01de68f6caab5e777d0a5c121b68e3ce09334b989286c5d23b} suffer foot pain on a daily basis while 50{ac15f71130453b01de68f6caab5e777d0a5c121b68e3ce09334b989286c5d23b} of Americans say that foot pain has limited their ability to be active. When the cause is plantar fasciitis, proven treatments are limited.

A growing number of orthopedists unhappy with current treatment modalities are beginning to recommend a combination of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and physical therapy. The combination of the two seems to help by encouraging the body to heal itself faster than it otherwise would. PRP and physical therapy do not work for everyone, but they do work for some plantar fasciitis patients.

  • Plantar Fasciitis Basics

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a long piece of connective tissue that acts as a shock absorber for the arch. It runs along the bottom of the foot between the heel and ball. When it becomes inflamed, it can cause significant pain anywhere in the heal or arch area.

Many plantar fasciitis patients complain of stabbing pains in the foot first thing in the morning and then toward the end of the day. In between, things seem to relax and feel better. Other patients complain of pain that lasts all day. Untreated plantar fasciitis will typically run its course in about six months or so. But for patients suffering from significant pain, six months is much too long to wait for the body to self-heal. That’s where PRP injections come in.

PRP injections promote healing by concentrating blood platelets rich in growth factors and nutrients. The concentrated platelets are injected into the site of injury where they then signal the body to start healing. The Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, a Utah organization that trains doctors in the proper administration of PRP injections, says that the higher concentration of platelets in PRP material helps the body heal faster.

  • Important PRP Growth Factors

Blood platelets are interesting cells in that their structure is vastly different from most other cell types in the body. Their structure allows platelets to perform a very vital function in the healing process. For the purposes of treating plantar fasciitis, doctors are interested in the growth factors found in platelets. There are at least 30 of them, including:

  • platelet-derived growth factor
  • fibroblast growth factor
  • vascular endothelial growth factor
  • insulin-like growth factor
  • epidermal growth factor.

Each of the growth factors in blood platelets contribute to the healing process in some way, shape, or form. By concentrating platelets up to 10 times the volume found in unprocessed blood, doctors are able to also concentrate growth factors before injecting PRP material at the site of injury.

  • Combining PRP with Physical Therapy

Now we get to the genius of combining PRP and physical therapy for treating plantar fasciitis. As any physical therapist can tell you, the exercises therapists develop are specifically intended to push the limits of the joints or tissues they are working on. Believe it or not, physical therapists actually want to encourage inflammation inasmuch as it is a key component in healing.

Combining the two modalities appears to have a better effect on healing than using just one of them alone. Physical therapy stimulates healing by promoting inflammation while PRP injections provide the material and growth factors the body needs to instigate the healing process.

More doctors and patients are discovering just how helpful the combined treatments are. There is nothing wrong with that.