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Published on April 13, 2015

New Minimally Invasive Procedure Relieves Plantar Fasciitis and Other Tendon Pain Syndromes

Every morning, Tom Leuck woke with pain in his foot so excruciating it hurt to get up and walk. By the end of the workday, he was hobbling. He was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.

“The pain changed my lifestyle. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was to go home and rest my foot,” Leuck said. “I had pain from my heel to mid foot for nearly a year.”

Now, Leuck is pain free after having a new, minimally invasive procedure at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) that can help with persistent, nagging tendon pain without stitches or anesthesia.

Whether the pain is burning, cutting or stabbing, the new procedure provides relief to tendon pain in the shoulder, knees, foot and ankle. If the pain has persisted for more than three months, it may be chronic tendon disease, caused by repetitive motions performed in your daily life.

Chronic tendon disease is often mistaken for tendonitis. Tendonitis is short-term inflammation of the tendon that causes pain. Pain from chronic tendon disease lasts for much longer.

To help solve this painful issue, this minimally invasive procedure uses ultrasound-imaging technology to locate the diseased tissue. Once this area is identified, a micro-incision is created and a device is inserted to remove the diseased tissue without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue.

Interventional radiologist Richard Harp, MD, is the only physician in the Upstate of South Carolina performing this procedure. The most common injuries he sees are golf elbow (medial epicondylitis), jumpers knees (Patellar tendinitis), tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) or pain in the heel of the foot (plantar fasciitis).

“Our patient is relaxed and the painful area is numbed,” Harp said. “By using ultrasound, we target the tissue, make a tiny incision and insert the device. It’s like an ultrasonic scalpel. Hypersonic energy waves breakdown the diseased tissue and removes it from the treated area.”

Other traditional surgeries and procedures for this type of pain are much more invasive and require extensive recovery times when compared to the procedure that Harp performs. The procedure and incisional pain is minimal. Patients are awake or slightly sedated during the procedure and most say they feel nothing or slight pressure.

“We make an incision that is only one to two millimeters long, so small we don’t have to use stitches,” Harp said. “We use a band aid or tissue glue to close the tiny skin opening.”

After the procedure is complete, the patient is able to drive home comfortably and go about their daily life easily and painlessly.

“Many of these patients say the relief they feel is nothing short of a miracle,” Harp said. “Some patients have lived in pain for many years and are now relieved from that pain from a procedure that takes about 20 minutes.”

While you won’t be able to hit the basketball court the day after the procedure, most people are able to return to their active lifestyles quicker than if they had surgery. Patients are instructed to take extra care of the area and to wait two weeks before performing weight-bearing activities or exercises.

Harp instructs patients who have the procedure done on their foot to wear a boot, while walking, for two weeks to protect the area and allow the tissue to heal. Once the boot is removed, the patient should not perform strenuous activities for four weeks to allow further healing.

Though results vary, there is no need for any additional therapy and most patients say they heal quickly after their treatment.

“It’s wonderful. I have actually lost weight because I am more active and exercising,” Leuck said. “The pain was affecting my mobility. It has made a huge difference.”

For more information, call 864-879-4833.

About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Featuring a full spectrum of services, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) is comprised of three hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, a multi-disciplinary physician group, a vibrant post-acute division, and is home to Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. With more than 300 physicians and 5,900 associates on staff, SRHS serves seven counties in South and North Carolina. Spartanburg Medical Center was ranked No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina by U.S. News and World Report; the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Commission on Cancer; and the American Nurses Association lists SRHS among the nation’s top seven percent of hospitals for excellence in nursing.

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