Plantar Faciitis

Introduction

Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot condition.  It occurs when connective tissue at the bottom of the foot called the plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed.  This is most common among people who spend a lot of time on their feet, like nurses. If you suffer from heel pain in the morning, directly after waking up, this is a hallmark sign of plantar fasciitis.  Fortunately, for the majority of people, symptoms can be relieved without any surgery.

Anatomy

The plantar fascia is a thick piece of connective tissue located on the bottom of the foot.  It connects the heel to the ball of the foot, and maintains the arch of the foot.

Plantar Fasciitis Causes

Plantar fasciitis is caused by structural problems in the foot.  People with flat feet have an extra long plantar fascia, creating greater distance between their heel and the ball of their feet, and people with high arches have a short plantar fascia. People with short plantar fascia are more prone to plantar fasciitis. Sudden weight gain, obesity, and prolonged standing or walking on hard surfaces can all contribute to this condition.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

Plantar fasciitis can potentially cause significant heel pain.  The pain is usually most severe in the morning upon awakening, following rest, or after being on your feet for long periods of time.  Walking or stretching helps relax the plantar fascia, and can help manage pain.

Many people with plantar fasciitis eventually develop heel spurs, abnormal bony growths that form underneath the heel.  Heel spurs can occur if the plantar fascia pulls away from the bone, or from prolonged inflammation of the plantar fascia. 

Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosis

An examination and a review of your medical history will be required to diagnose plantar fasciitis. You should describe your symptoms to your doctor accurately, and explain the amount of time that you spend on your feet. Imaging scans like MRIs or an X-ray can be used to determine the extent to which your plantar fascia is inflamed, and help determine appropriate treatments.  

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

In the majority of cases, plantar fasciitis can be treated non-surgically.  Rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or prescription medications can help manage pain.  Cortisone injections may also be used to alleviate symptoms. It can be helpful to lose any excess weight, and to refrain from going barefoot. 

Physical therapy can be helpful to learn exercises to stretch and help relax the tissues in the heel.  Your doctor may recommend custom orthotics, shoe inserts, or a removable walking cast to help position your foot and cushion your heel.  Night splints can help while you sleep.

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Surgery is necessary to treat plantar fasciitis a very small percentage of the time. Surgical treatments will usually only be considered after non-surgical treatments have failed.  Plantar fascia release surgery is used to relax the plantar fascia, and is usually paired with tarsal tunnel release surgery. Surgery is successful for the vast majority of people.

Plantar Fasciitis Recovery

The majority of people with plantar fasciitis improve after a few months of non-surgical treatment. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions.  It is important to let your doctor know if your symptoms do not improve after a few months so that your treatment plan can be reassessed.

Plantar Fasciitis Prevention

Customized orthotics and insoles can help relieve inflammation or tightness in the plantar fascia.  It is important to perform any exercises given to you by your doctor to help keep your foot stretched and relaxed.  Maintaining a healthy weight helps as well.

At SPORT, we will identify the source of your pain and then utilize state-of-the-art therapeutic techniques that focus on restoring your range of motion.

Depending on the specific condition and its severity, these treatment options may include physical therapy, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, slings and supports, cortisone shots, or surgery.

If you have an acute or chronic foot or ankle injury that needs medical attention, call SPORT at (469) 200-2832 to arrange a consultation or you can request one online. Hurt today? We can arrange a same-day urgent care visit to ensure you get fast, effective relief.

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