Patients looking for relief from chronic plantar fasciitis are not alone. Some 2 million people are treated for the condition annually, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
I have been studying a potential new treatment using an injectable human umbilical cord and amniotic membrane matrix called Clarix Flo, and initial findings are promising.
Clarix Flo Study
Along with Ryan T. Scott, DPM, of the CORE Institute in Phoenix, I tested the injectable Clarix Flo — manufactured by Amniox Medical — in 43 patients with plantar fasciitis (we did not receive any funding or payment from Amniox Medical). We found most patients experienced a reduction in pain and boost to their recovery after receiving injections. These were patients who had tried more conservative methods of treatment and experienced functional disability for at least three months.
We continue to analyze our findings, but we announced the preliminary results at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons conference in Las Vegas; those preliminary results are summarized below.
In our Clarix Flo study, almost 100 percent of patients saw some improvement. On average, pain dropped anywhere from 7 out of 10 to 1 out of 10 on the pain scale. That was an average, so there were a lot of people who had no pain whatsoever after treatment. There were people with functional scores that jumped dramatically. We were shocked at how it worked. In most cases, patients saw improvement in about three to four weeks.
A fraction of the 2 million people with plantar fasciitis continue to suffer the effects of the condition, even with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. We hope our research helps develop effective new treatments for plantar fasciitis, and potentially even other conditions of the soft tissue or joints.
Clarix Flo Versus Cortisone and Platelet-Rich Plasma
Some patients with plantar fasciitis do find pain relief through cortisone injections. What is the difference? Cortisone — or steroid — injections can help relieve pain for about three to six months.
The potentially exciting aspect of Clarix Flo, however, is that it can offer regeneration and healing. It can help to modulate inflammation, bring new cells into the area for healing effect and improve function over time as pain subsides. It's not a miracle drug, and it's not a pain medication, but it allows the body to heal itself.
Another injectible treatment called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) lacks science behind it and comes with a risk of morbidity and infection. It involves re-injecting the patient's own blood to stimulate healing, but patients with chronic plantar fasciitis may have issues with the body's own ability to heal anyway, which is why a treatment like Clarix Flo may be preferable.
Accessing Clarix Flo
For now, patients must pay out of pocket for treatment with Clarix Flo. Amniox would need to conduct a second, larger clinical trial and prove the drug's efficacy to insurers before they will cover it. But quite a few patients pay out of pocket for it because nothing else has worked for them.
If you have pain or other symptoms of plantar fasciitis talk to an orthopedic expert about the best treatment for you.