Dr. Marcin N. Vaclaw is one of only a few Podiatrists in Houston to implement a new type of no-incision treatment for heel pain. Traditionally, plantar fasciitis or heel pain is treated conservatively through stretching exercises, arch supports, steroid injections and even foot surgery. The treatments have been aimed at correcting the biomechanical abnormalities in the foot as well as reducing the inflammation to the insertion of the plantar fascia into the heel bone. This tightness usually causes spurring to form on the underside of the heel bone giving it the term “heel spurs“.
95% of patients improve from heel pain utilizing stretching and other conservative treatments. A smaller percentage of heel pain patients do require other more aggressive means of treatment for plantar fasciitis, often including foot surgery. Some patients start with steroid injections or physical therapy modalities like electrical stimulation or ultrasound, and as then again the option of surgery. Of the small percentage that require surgery, the most common complaints and complications are the recovery time, infection, hematomas or even clots.
Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands is at the forefront of surgical regenerative medicine in utilizing stem cells. Stem cells have been used since the 1980’s in medicine, mainly in eye surgery, but have increased in use in many other realms of medicine like spine, orthopedics and pain management. It has been considered a hot political topic due to the controversial way stem cells have been harvested. In 2012 the Nobel Prize was awarded to two scientists who discovered a way to synthetically make stem cells. This would give medicine a way of producing them from adult-harvested cells instead of embryos or fetuses.
The “Noble Procedure”, as designed by Dr. Vaclaw is a “no-stitch” treatment for heel pain consisting of a simple needle-sized injection to release the tension on the plantar fascia and then application stem cells to the area to stimulate healing to the fascia. The stem cells not only help the fascia to quickly and effectively heal, but also assist in reducing post-surgery inflammation and pain. The Noble Procedure takes place under mild sedation and generally takes less than 10 minutes, reducing the risk from long amounts of anesthesia. The stem cells used in the Noble Procedure are undifferentiated or “blank” cells that will develop into whatever the body requires them to become.
The cells are applied to the area via an injection in a clean, sterile environment. The patient enters the operating room and is placed on the bed on their back. After a minimal amount of sedation, a needle is inserted into the area and is used to make small punctures to the plantar fascia to stimulate a new inflammatory response and reduce the tension on the fascia. The stem cells are then injected into and around the plantar fascia to the area of concern.
The level of discomfort experienced by the patient is nearly eliminated. The time it takes to do the procedure is very reduced significantly verses the tradition open plantar fasciotomy procedure. The patients have the option, pending their health status, to have as much or as little anesthesia as they desire. However; most patients only require the minimal amount. In patient’s with very poor health, this minimally invasive procedure can be performed using local anesthesia, negating the need for some of the higher risk medicines associated with general anesthesia. This makes this procedure safe for almost every patient.
The recovery period associated with this procedure is also greatly reduced. Patients are encouraged to walk immediately after the surgery without restrictive devices like casts or walking boots. Because there is no incision with this procedure there are no stitches needed making this a “stitch-less” surgery. It is actually recommended to walk immediately after the surgery and begin rehab on day one.
Some may think that this is a painful experience, however patients have reported improvement as soon as 3 days after the surgery takes place. Patients can even be cleared to go back to work and activities the very next day.
Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands takes pride in being at the forefront of medicine and surgery for foot and ankle pain. Dr. Vaclaw has made himself available to answer any questions patients have regarding this procedure.
For more information regarding the Noble Procedure, heel pain or plantar fasciitis or foot surgery please contact us:
Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands
9191 Pinecroft Dr. #150
The Woodlands, TX