Treatment and Information
WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
Although heel pain symptoms can be caused by a wide variety of different pathologies—including tendinitis, bone spurs, and even pinched nerves—one cause in particular is by far the most common: plantar fasciitis.
This specific condition is the result of inflammation, tearing, or other damage to the plantar fascia ligament that runs underneath your foot. This long, tough, fibrous tissue is designed to support your arch, but can become aggravated under heavy stress loads. When it does become damaged, it typically occurs right underneath the heel.
The good news is that the vast majority of plantar fasciitis cases can be treated successfully without surgery. However, we still recommend you see us for an appointment if your heels are hurting. While plantar fasciitis is very common, it can still have multiple different causes and contributing factors. And if you don’t understand which particular factors are contributing the most to your symptoms, you may find your attempts at home treatment less than fully successful.
SYMPTOMS OF PLANTAR FASCIITIS
How is plantar fasciitis distinguished from other, similar forms of heel pain? Although you may require diagnostic testing to be 100% sure, there are some telltale signs.
- Pain concentrated on the bottom of your foot, directly underneath or near to your heel. The sensation may start out as more of a dull ache when you first develop the condition, but often worsens into a stabbing pain.
- Symptoms tend to spike when you get up after a long rest—particularly with the first few steps of the morning. Pain may also increase during extended periods of standing, as well as after (but not necessarily during) exercise.
While these symptoms alone may not be enough to prove plantar fasciitis, they are a strong indication that it is likely.
WHAT CAUSES PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
In general, most cases of plantar fasciitis are overuse injuries that develop due to excessive wear and tear on the plantar fascia ligament over an extended period of time.
There are several possible reasons why your plantar fascia may be subject to greater-than-normal amounts of force. Some of the most common include:
- Faulty foot structure.
If your arches are overly flat or especially high, for example, you may be more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
- Unsupportive footwear.
If you aren’t getting the arch support and cushioning you need from your shoes, more impact forces get transferred directly to the plantar fascia. This is especially true if you walk on a lot of hard surfaces.
- High-impact hobbies and occupations.
People who work on their feet, or enjoy sports like running or basketball, put more wear and tear on their feet.
The heavier you are, the greater the force that needs to be borne by the plantar fascia.
Is Plantar Fasciitis Causing You Pain?
When you have foot or ankle problems – You don’t want just anyone.
Call on the friendly experienced foot doctors at Rocky Mountain.
We specialize in treating foot and ankle pain or injuries of all varieties.
PLANTAR FASCIITIS TREATMENT
In most cases, there is a two-part approach to treating plantar fasciitis. After we confirm the diagnosis and identify the most likely root causes, we’ll typically recommend a personalized combination of treatment strategies you can begin at home. These may include:
- Limiting physical activity.
Your heels need some time to rest and recover.
- Using ice.
Place a pack on your heel for 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day to alleviate inflammation. Always wrap the ice in a thin towel first—you don’t want to apply it directly to your skin.
- Stretching exercises.
We’ll suggest some plantar fascia and calf stretches that can ease pain and help encourage healing.
- Avoiding walking barefoot.
Your shoes are a critical tool to help reduce stress on your plantar fascia. Make sure your shoes provide good arch support with a slightly raised heel.
If your home treatment strategies are successful (part 1), then there is no need to move on to part two. However, more severe cases of plantar fasciitis may require more aggressive treatment options. Examples include:
- Arch supports or custom orthotics.
In some cases, supportive shoes on their own don’t provide enough cushioning and support, especially if you have an underlying structural abnormality in your foot.
- Strapping and padding.
Straps help support and reduce strain on the plantar fascia, while pads cushion impacts.
- Night splints.
These devices are worn at night to keep the plantar fascia in a stretched position. This may help make the first steps of the morning much less painful.
- Physical therapy.
May be necessary if simple home stretches aren’t providing enough relief.
- Regenerative therapy.
Our office is equipped with several state-of-the-art treatments that accelerate natural healing without using drugs, including various forms of soft tissue therapy
- Injection therapy.
A shot of cortisone can provide medium-to-long-term relief from pain and inflammation while the injury itself heals.
In rare cases, you may need to wear a removable walking cast for a few weeks in order to protect the foot and keep it immobile during the healing process.
Surgery is generally only considered if pain continues after several months, despite attempts to correct it. While it does happen from time to time, surgery is only needed in about 1 out of 20 cases.
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Feet shouldn’t hurt, and neither should their treatment. If you are experiencing foot pain or problems, then give us a call. The podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle will thoroughly examine your feet and evaluate your symptoms to better understand your condition.