Your blood cells play an important role in clotting and tissue healing. Specifically, it’s the proteins called growth factors in these cells that help with the healing process. By using orthopedic injections that have been specially formulated using the patient’s own blood cells, a high concentration of growth factors can be directed at the desired area.
These injections are placed directly into the affected area. It’s believed that the extra concentration of blood cells to the injury site speeds up the healing process because of the abundance of growth factors, which may be up to 5-10 times greater than what’s in a typical blood sample. Once the concentrated blood is prepared, a live X-ray or ultrasound may be used to help the doctor direct the injection to the appropriate location in the foot or ankle. This treatment is sometimes used to improve healing after surgery, as may be the case if a torn or severely damaged tendon in the foot requires surgery. A specially prepared version is used if the treatment is administered during surgery.
Around feet or ankles, these injections may be used to facilitate the healing of tendon and ligament injuries. Achilles tendinitis, for instance, is a common injury experienced by competitive runners. This type of injury often causes the heel cord to become inflamed. The injection mixture would be placed directly into the inflamed tissue — the heel cord, in this instance. This treatment may also benefit patients with other foot injuries and conditions that typically affect tissues, including:
Some patients may have minor irritation around the injection site after receiving the treatment, but this is usually temporary. There may be a slight increase in discomfort after the injection is given. This occurs when the local anesthetic wears off, although any increased pain usually goes away within a few weeks once the platelet-rich plasma begins to work on tissues to stimulate healing.
Possible benefits of this treatment for patients with foot pain include shorter duration physical therapy programs. For most common foot injuries treated with orthopedic injections, short-course physical therapy typically begins about a month after treatment. The purpose of PT is to strengthen tendons and ligaments and restore foot and ankle flexibility and stability.