Guide to Plantar Fasciitis by Orthopaedic & Spine Center
Call (757) 596-1900 for an Interventional Pain Management consultation
If you wake up in the morning and experience a sharp, burning pain in the heel of your foot, you may be suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, a very common disorder of the fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. This tissue is what connects the toes to the heel bone and it also is the architecture for the foot arch.
Preventing Plantar Fasciitis is relatively easy, but healing this disorder can be painful, tough, take a year and may require surgery. Prevention consists of stretching the foot, Achilles Tendon and ankles and calf muscles regularly to maintain flexibility.
One of the easiest stretches to these muscles is to stand with your toes on the edge of a curb or step, with your heels hanging off the edge. Then, slowly lower your heels until you feel a good, gentle stretch. If you perform this exercise regularly, you will notice that you will eventually be able to stretch with a much greater degree of flexibility AND help to prevent Plantar Fasciitis from occurring.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis
For anyone suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, they know the sharp, disabling pain that occurs when they first walk upon awakening or after sitting for a long time. Ouch! Most people immediately think that a bone spur must have formed on their heel to cause such intense stabbing pain. However, the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toe can make us yelp in pain without having any other issue other than being inflamed.
Why do we get this disorder? There are many reasons, but the most common are:
• Lack of flexibility in the Achilles tendon, foot, ankle and calf
• Quick weight gain or chronic obesity
• Having high arches or flat feet
• Running on irregular surfaces, downhill or for great distances
• Wearing ill-fitting, non-supportive shoes
Plantar Fasciitis Facts
• Can occur in men and women, but more commonly in men who are active and between the ages of 40-70.
• Does not necessarily involve a bone spur of the heel, but both can occur simultaneously
• One of the most common reasons for a person to seek medical care from an Orthopaedic specialist
• Lack of flexibility, Weight gain or obesity, having flat feet or high arches or running competitively can put you at greater risk of developing this disorder
• Most Plantar Fasciitis is treated non-surgically, with stretching, NSAIDS, Physical Therapy and steroid injections.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
You may suspect that you have Plantar Fasciitis if you experience heel pain, but what are the most common indications that you may have this disorder? You might experience the following symptoms:
• Pain, from mild to severe, which may be burning, sharp, stabbing or dull in the heel
• Pain is usually worse in the morning when you get out of bed, after intense periods of activity, if you sit or stand for a period of time, or when climbing ladders or stairs
• Your foot may swell or become red
• You may feel like your foot is tight or stiff, especially in the bottom of your arch
• The bottom of your foot may also feel tender to the touch
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
Most people will PF can easily be treated without surgery or any injections. Rest, icing the area, taking Ibuprofen or Naproxen Sodium to reduce inflammation and ease pain and beginning a comprehensive stretching program which addresses flexibility issues of the Achilles tendon, calf muscles and foot and ankle muscles will usually help most people recover. Your doctor may also recommend that you buy a good pair of supportive shoes.
Recovery may be slow. For those persons who do not respond to the aforementioned treatments, orthopaedic physicians may also recommend wearing a heel cup or using shoe inserts. Splints that hold the Plantar Fascia in a flexed position may also be recommended for use at night. Using a plastic removable boot cast for several weeks may also help. Tougher cases may require the injections of steroids into the heel or having custom orthotics made to be worn everyday in the shoe.
Rarely, a person may not recover and surgery will need to be considered to release the tight connective Plantar Fascia. Although this surgery is simple and performed as an outpatient procedure, all surgery has risks that need to be discussed with your doctor. In some persons, pain will continue even after surgery. That person will then need to be referred to a Pain Management Specialist or consultation.