When you develop heel pain, especially if you experience sharp pain when you take your first steps in the morning, chances are you have plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain in adults. If your pain persists despite conservative treatments, Dr. Paul Tortland and Dr. Jeffrey LaVallee at the New England Stem Cell Institute offer many non-surgical options, including shock wave treatment and regenerative medicine techniques such as prolotherapy, Prolozone®, PRP, and other stem cell-based therapies.
The plantar fascia is a tight band of tissue that spans the bottom of the foot. It runs from the bottom of your heel to the base of your toes, and it helps support the arch of your foot and absorbs shock every time you take a step.
Plantar fasciitis develops when this ligament is injured, irritated, or inflamed. Plantar fasciitis often occurs develops due to:
The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain directly on the bottom of the heel. You could also experience pain in the arch of your foot or anywhere along the length of the ligament. In most cases, the pain is worse after you rest, such as when you wake up in the morning and take the first few steps. When you’re not active, the ligament tightens. So, when you take that first step and suddenly stretch the ligament, you feel a sharp pain.
The history of your symptoms is the first clue to the diagnosis. A physical exam almost always finds significant tenderness at the attachment of the plantar fascia on the bottom of the heel. A definitive diagnosis is confirmed using either diagnostic ultrasound or MRI, both of which can show a thickened plantar fascia.
Treating plantar fasciitis begins with conservative therapies like activity changes, tension night splints, and orthotics (arch supports and heel cushions). Formal physical therapy may also help. A cortisone injection could reduce inflammation and pain. You can also use kinesiology taping (kinesiotaping) to reduce the strain on the plantar fascia and promote healing. Kinesiotaping applies a special tape to the foot in a way that allows movement while stabilizing muscles and joints.
Shock wave treatment (ESWT – extracorporeal shock wave treatment) is another non-invasive approach that can be very helpful. This is offered at the New England Stem Cell Institute.
When your heel pain doesn’t improve despite conservative treatments, podiatrists typically recommend surgery — plantar fasciitis release — which consists of cutting part of the ligament to release the tension.
The team at the New England Stem Cell Institute offers a better alternative to surgery and failed conservative treatment: regenerative medicine. We have years of experience successfully using prolotherapy, Prolozone®, and PRP to heal this problem while also preserving the integrity of the plantar fascia.