Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot ailments seen in our office. It can be a stubborn issue, but with some education, determination, and support, we can ease your heel and foot pain and get you back to living your life pain-free.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is heel or foot pain caused by slight tears and inflammation in the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick tissue band that runs under the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes. It's a shock absorber that also helps support the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis can impact anyone, though there are a few risk factors that make some people more likely to experience pain from plantar fasciitis than others.
What Are the Main Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?
Doctors are uncertain what causes plantar fasciitis. Evidence points to the chief causes being either general degeneration of the plantar fascia or prolonged tension and stress on the plantar fascia. Too much pressure and strain can cause the plantar fascia to develop little tears, which can then lead to inflammation.
What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp, stabbing heel pain. Usually, it's the worst first thing in the morning. After moving around a bit, the pain tends to subside for most people. However, it often returns after extended periods of sitting or standing as the day wears on. For those who exercise, there's usually little to no pain during the workout, but high levels of pain return after the session ends.
Some plantar fasciitis sufferers experience mid-foot pain in addition to or in place of heel pain. Usually, those with plantar fasciitis only experience pain in one foot, but it can affect both feet at the same time in some people.
Are Some People at Higher Risk for Plantar Fasciitis Than Others?
People with certain physical, health, and lifestyle factors are at higher risk for plantar fasciitis than others. Elevated risk factors include people:
- Who run.
- Are considered overweight or obese.
- Who wear shoes with poor foot support.
- With flat feet.
- Who put undue pressure on certain areas of their feet while walking.
- Who stand or walk around for most of the day.
- Who are in late pregnancy.
- With tight Achilles tendons.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
Our team of Podiatrists diagnose plantar fasciitis by taking your medical history, discussing your lifestyle, and performing a physical exam. For example, questions about your exercise regimen and the type of shoes you wear can help to establish your risk factors for plantar fasciitis.
During the physical exam, we will check your feet for signs of inflammation and pain by asking about tenderness and looking for swelling or redness.
In addition to a physical exam, we use a diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to look for fractures or arthritis.
What Is the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis has several treatment options. Our team will typically start with a series of conservative, low-invasive remedies and then increase the intensity of the treatment if needed.
The first stage of treatment usually includes:
- Resting the foot or feet.
- Icing the heel or mid-foot.
- Stretching the plantar fascia.
- Taking anti-inflammatory and over-the-counter pain-relieving medications.
- Possible injection
If after a few months your plantar fasciitis symptoms persist, your doctor might add treatments like these:
- Physical therapy.
- Night splints.
- Orthotic inserts or shoes.
If your pain isn’t resolving quickly with the treatments listed above, our office can switch swiftly to a “chronic protocol” for your Plantar fascia. At this point if it is not responding, then we may call it Plantar fasciosis, rather than fasciitis. The diagnostic Ultrasound tests are the premier test to check the fascia for chronic damage.
Treatments for Chronic Plantar Fasciosis Include:
- Triple Header treatments: Dr. Schoene has developed a combination of treatments which will encourage the body to heal the tissue, we do various treatments while at the office, which helps to promote and produce collagen within the damaged plantar fascia.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy: sound wave therapy applied outside the foot to the painful area, to internally promote and produce collagen within the damaged plantar fascia.
- Surgery: this is rarely if ever performed on patients with plantar fasciitis. Aggressive but conservative treatments will heal the tissue. Diagnostic studies to rule out other possible reasons for the non-resolving pain is very important.
How Can I Reduce My Risk for Plantar Fasciitis?
Although some patients can have plantar fasciitis for many months, if your doctor evaluates the underlying reason for the condition, we can make sure to not let it return in the future.
To reduce the chances Plantar Fasciitis returns, we recommend:
- Lose weight: If you're overweight or obese, and your doctor thinks this is the primary factor in your plantar fasciitis, lose weight to help reduce the strain on your plantar fascia.
- Warm up before exercise: Take the time to properly stretch and prepare the plantar fascia for exercise before beginning your workout.
- Wear supportive shoes: Select shoes with a cushion for your heel and substantial support for the arch of your foot. Wear them as much as possible.
- Replace your shoes regularly: Once your shoes are wearing thin and offering little support, replace them.
- Wear your custom prescribed orthotics: for all activities
- Stretch your Achilles tendon: Work on lengthening your Achilles tendon by stretching it and your calf muscles daily.
Plantar fasciitis, while painful, is usually easy to manage. Ensure you're taking the necessary precautions to keep your feet healthy.
Visit our office today! One of our doctors will evaluate you and get you back on track quickly