What You Need to Know about Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be a painful, frustrating condition for those who suffer from it. This article will show you what causes plantar fasciitis and what you can do to keep it from interfering with your quality of life.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the long, thick band of tissue in the foot that connects the heels to the toes gets inflamed. This band is known as the fascia and supports the arch of the foot. It can often become inflamed from overuse or being stretched too far. In some cases, plantar fasciitis can lead to the growth of bony nodules called heel spurs.
Since the fascia is made of tissue, when it stretches or is overused, small tears can develop on the surface, causing discomfort, pain, and difficulty moving. Plantar fasciitis usually results from being on your feet a lot, leading to considerable wear and tear. Wearing ill-fitting or high-heeled shoes with little arch support can also lead to plantar fasciitis.
The more strain on your feet, the more likely you are to develop plantar fasciitis. That means being overweight can be a risk factor. Runners—or those who spend a lot of time on their feet—are also more likely to develop plantar fasciitis since they also frequently strain the ligaments supporting the arch of their feet by moving around all day. Those with naturally flat feet or high arches also have a higher chance of getting plantar fasciitis.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis are fairly consistent. Here’s a list of the top complaints:
- Sharp or stabbing foot pain (usually in the heel or arch)
- More pain after sitting or resting your feet
- More pain after standing for a long time, gradually worsens over the day
- Swelling in the foot or heel
- Tender to touch
- Limping or difficulty walking
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain in the heel or sole of the foot. If you’re noticing some of these symptoms when you stand or walk, you might have developed plantar fasciitis.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
To diagnose plantar fasciitis, an orthopedic doctor will often use a variety of methods to examine your foot and rule out other possibilities. Common diagnostic tests include
- Physical exam to locate the source of pain or swelling and to test the muscular strength
- An X-ray to examine the bone
- An MRI, in some cases, to make sure there are no bone fractures causing the pain
After ruling out possible other explanations—like bone fractures or arthritis—the doctor will diagnose plantar fasciitis based on the results of the physical exam.
What treatments are available for plantar fasciitis?
Although plantar fasciitis can be a painful condition, many treatments are available to combat it. Here are some of the key recommendations:
- Icing the affected foot
- Supporting the affected foot with a brace or splint
- Wearing better fitting shoes or inserts with more arch support
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Minimizing standing time
For more severe cases, available treatments include
- Physical therapy exercises that stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon
- A corticosteroid injection into the damaged ligament to soothe inflammation
The most severe, chronic cases require surgery to relieve pain. There are two main surgical options:
- Minimally invasive plantar fascia release: Instead of surgically opening the foot, this procedure uses a cauterizing needle to reduce inflammation and release the plantar fascia without an incision. Recovery is fairly short since the procedure is only minimally invasive.
- Open plantar fascia release: A surgeon cuts part of the plantar fascia to relieve tension and inflammation in the ligament by releasing it from the heel bone. This procedure is more invasive and is usually reserved for stubborn cases of plantar fasciitis.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants
At Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, we know how difficult it can be to live with plantar fasciitis. We’re dedicated to helping you get rid of pain and get back on your feet again. We are skilled orthopedic experts with extensive experience and a passion for finding the best orthopedic treatments.
If you think you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis, book an appointment with our office for an evaluation right away. We’re ready to help you get back to doing what you love.