The idea of removing scar tissue to treat soft-tissue injuries isn’t new. But there is a new, minimally invasive method of scar tissue removal that’s generating a lot of buzz!
The Tenex procedure, which was created in partnership with the Mayo Clinic as an alternative to surgery, has become an increasingly popular method for resolving chronic cases of plantar fasciitis. If you’re considering the Tenex procedure for plantar fasciitis, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Tenex!
What Is the Tenex Procedure?
The Tenex procedure is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical medical treatment that uses high-frequency vibrations and a specialized tool to remove accumulated scar tissue from a damaged tendon (or in cases of plantar fasciitis, a damaged plantar fascia ligament)..
Tenex can be used to treat many different kinds of tendon and soft-tissue injuries, including rotator cuff tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis, and patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee). Tenex can also be used to treat plantar fasciitis. By removing scar tissue, Tenex helps restore mobility and circulation to the injury site, as well as encouraging regrowth of healthy tissue.
Is the Tenex Procedure Effective in Treating Plantar Fasciitis?
Since Tenex was approved in 2013, more than 80,000 procedures have been performed. And the results, so far, are pretty promising. Clinical studies, as well as several years of followup research on post-treatment outcomes, are impressive — although some of the clinical studies are not specific to plantar fasciitis, but rather Achilles tendonitis or rotator cuff injuries.
One study, which followed 34 patients for more than three years after their Tenex procedure, found that even 3.5 years post-procedure, 70% were still satisfied with their procedure. Another larger study, specific to plantar fasciitis, evaluated 53 patients who underwent the Tenex procedure, and found that at 6 months post-procedure, the vast majority (96%) were pleased with their results and would recommend Tenex to a friend. The same study showed that patients’ average FADI (foot and ankle disability index) score improved from 59% to 90% by 24 weeks post-procedure (100% is the best possible score on the FADI).
What to Expect During the Tenex Procedure
After you arrive for your scheduled Tenex procedure, your doctor will use local anesthesia to numb your foot.
Once your foot is numb, your doctor will use ultrasound imaging to precisely locate the scar tissue that he or she will remove with the Tenex Procedure. Your doctor will then create a tiny incision on your heel, and insert a specialized instrument (the Tenex Tissue Removal System, which has a needle-like tip) that releases high-frequency vibrations to destroy scar tissue while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.
The entire Tenex Procedure should take less than 30 minutes, and should not be painful with the local anesthesia. Once completed, your incision will be bandaged, and you will be able to leave the treatment facility (many patients can drive themselves home, but you may want to plan for a ride just in case!).
Post-Procedure Care After Tenex
Expect up to 6 weeks of total healing time that includes extra rest, NSAIDs as needed, and icing for any swelling or tenderness. Your doctor may recommend the use of a walking boot for the first one or two weeks of recovery.
After your incision has fully healed and you are back on your feet (and hopefully feeling incredible!) you’ll want to take steps to keep your feet healthy — and keep your heel pain from returning. For instance, if your plantar fasciitis was caused by the repetitive strain of long days on your feet for work, or the stress of high-impact sports, consider wearing heel cups to support your plantar fascia, and making a new commitment to giving your feet enough rest throughout the day or activity.
Benefits of the Tenex Procedure
The Tenex procedure offers some unique benefits for people who struggle with chronic plantar fasciitis, especially in comparison with surgery:
- Fast relief from heel pain following the procedure
- Shorter healing time, compared to surgery (many people recover in as little as three weeks)
- Small incision that doesn’t require stitches
- No scarring, and very few potential side effects
- Precise tool that, when used with guided ultrasound imaging, can destroy only damaged tissue while leaving healthy tissue intact
- Promising results in clinical studies
- Local anesthesia, instead of general anesthesia
- Typically covered by insurance, making the procedure less expensive
- Good alternative for patients who haven’t had success with conservative treatments, physical therapy, surgery, or cortisone shots
Possible Side Effects and Risks of the Tenex Procedure
There are very few documented side effects of the Tenex procedure, and all are minor and temporary.
As you recover, you may experience pain, redness, tenderness, or swelling in the foot that has been treated. You may also notice some bruising or minimal trauma to the treatment area. You can manage these symptoms with ice packs and NSAIDs as needed. Follow your doctor’s instructions about when to remove the bandage, rest the foot often, use your walking boot as needed, and keep the wound clean as directed for the fastest healing time.
How Much Does Tenex Cost?
The cost of a Tenex procedure will depend on whether or not it’s covered by your particular insurance company (most providers do cover the Tenex procedure), whether the procedure is performed in a hospital setting or a doctor’s office, and whether local anesthetic or sedation is used (most people just need local anesthetic).
Without insurance, Tenex can cost anywhere from $1,600-$5,000 according to representatives from Tenex Health.
What Type of Doctor Performs the Tenex Procedure?
Several different kinds of specialists are trained in the Tenex procedure, including orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, radiologists, and sports medicine providers. You can find a provider trained in Tenex by using the Tenex locator.
Before you schedule or undergo the Tenex procedure, make sure you verify with your insurance that the procedure will be covered by your chosen provider, and find out whether or not you need a referral.
If you do need a referral as required by your insurance provider, talk to the podiatrist or general practitioner who has treated you for plantar fasciitis.
Have You Tried Tenex?
Have you undergone (or are thinking about undergoing) the Tenex procedure? We want to hear all about it. Tell us about your experience in the comments below!