APC and Your Feet

April 09, 2010
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Autologous platelet concentration (APC) injections, otherwise known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, are a new form of treatment which we are finding great amounts of success with in our office for treating plantar fasciitis and its associated heel pain. This cutting edge therapy is being utilized to prevent surgery and quicken recovery time from injury, while still helping patients find excellent relief from their condition.

What are APC Injections?

APC or PRP injections are a simple procedure in which platelets are concentrated and then injected into an injury or problem site to help the patient heal from their injury or condition. They are very safe and have little or no side effects. APC injections work to restore your feet to their original condition faster than with rest alone. These injections have prevented surgery candidates from requiring surgical intervention.

How APC Injections Work

The first step of the procedure is to remove 1-2 ounces of blood from one of the patient's veins. This blood is then processed through a centrifuge, separating red blood cells and plasma. The plasma contains platelets which are your body's growth and healing factors. The platelets are concentrated and injected into the patient's heel (after an initial numbing of the foot) to relieve pain and help fight the plantar fasciitis naturally. With the concentration of your body's own healing factors, your body can heal itself in a reduced amount of time.

Side Effects

APC or PRP injections are relatively side effect free! This is because the injection utilizes the body's own healing factors, preventing reaction to the injection materials. It does not utilize any illegal or banned substances (like steroids or human growth hormone) which makes it a prime treatment for athletes. There may be some pain or discomfort associated with the treatment, since an injection is involved. Your podiatrist can recommend or prescribe pain killers for this. Also, some patients experience some inflammation with this treatment. Since anti-inflammatories can interfere with the effectiveness of this treatment, patients will have to cope with any discomfort associated with inflammation and footwear or ambulation.

Why You Should Choose APC Injections

There are many reasons to choose APC injections for the treatment of your plantar fasciitis.

-APC injections are effective! We have found these injections to be very effective for people who prior to the availability of this treatment would have needed surgical intervention. Often these patients do not require further care after their treatment, with the exception of follow-up visits concerning the APC injection. When paired with an orthotic for biomechanical control, APC injections become even more effective.

-APC Injections are safe! There are little side effects due to the fact that APC or PRP injections utilize your body's own healing and growth factors.

-APC injections reduce recovery time. If you experience an injury or pain from plantar fasciitis, APC injections concentrate your body's natural healing abilities and can help you recover in half the time that you would normally.

-APC injections can prevent the need for surgery. Many patients who undergo conservative treatments and find no relief become candidates for surgical intervention. APC injections present another option before surgery becomes a necessity, and prevent many people from going this route. Surgery involves increased risks and a longer healing time, meaning time off work or from your sport or exercise program.

-APC injections have been effective in tissues that do not heal well on their own. This not only reduces healing time, but is a great relief to doctors who have few options for treating areas that do not heal well under normal circumstances. A fast, full recovery also helps prevent repeat injuries.

Who is Utilizing APC Injections?

According to a March 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal, many high profile athletes have used APC or PRP injections with great success. Seattle Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee took advantage of this therapy for an abdominal strain, and he's not the only Seattle athlete to do so. Mariners and Seahawk's team doctor E. Edward Khalfayan has used APC injections for many athletes. He even states that is has helped players return from ankle sprains in as little as 2-3 weeks, when the injury usually keeps them out for 6-8 weeks. The Journal also reports that Kenyon Martin, power forward for the Denver Nuggets used the treatment for a strained left knee and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and receiver Hines Ward used the injections for a strained calf and sprained knee respectively before contributing to their team's Super Bowl XLIII victory. Tiger Woods also used the treatments for his left knee before participating in four majors. But APC injections aren't just for high-profile athletes. Many doctors are reporting high rates of success utilizing the injections on many patients for a range of injuries and ailments. According to the article, the treatment can help in cases of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, osteoarthritis, muscle strains (including hamstrings, calfs and abdominals/obliques), joint sprains (including knees, ankles, and elbows), and in cases of tennis elbow.

Notes on APC Injections

-APC injections do not require FDA regulation, since they utilize your body's own healing factors. They do, however, regulate the centrifugal and other blood equipment, so rest assured that the handling of your blood and platelets before the injection is safe.

-Most insurances do not cover APC injections. This is because the treatment is still considered by most of these insurances to be experimental. This is because the is a lack of published studies on the effectiveness of the treatment. Be assured that studies continue to be done, and because of the lack of side effects, utilizing this treatment helps us to compile further data and help the scientific community move closer to completing its research on this procedure. This means we can work toward insurance reimbursement for this treatment, making it more available to and affordable for our patients. Who knows, you may need the injection again after an injury or trauma.

-There is some recovery time with APC injections. You do not want to over-use the foot after the injection, and you will likely be required to be non-weight bearing on that foot through use of crutches or a surgical or walker boot. Your time under these restrictions will be brief, but this is still an important part in the healing process.

-Following all your doctor's orders makes any procedure more effective, and the same is true with APC or PRP injections. Compliance will help you reach a full recovery.

If you think you are a candidate for APC injections, or have more questions for the doctor or nursing staff, call our office at 419-423-1888. We are happy to help and we can also schedule you for a consultation with the doctor.