Plantar Fasciitis & Heel Pain
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common issues we treat at County Wide Foot, Ankle and Wound Care Associates. The condition can affect practically any age group, and is a result of fairly common reasons, such as overactivity, poor foot support or simply your unique foot shape. However, Plantar Fasciitis is also among the most “curable” of foot issues we deal with, and can often be remedied within 10 months. If you’re worried you have Plantar Fasciitis, we invite you to read this helpful information below to understand more about the condition and if you are a candidate for therapy.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of the Plantar Fascia. The Plantar Fascia is the large ligament that connects the heel to the toes, and is a powerhouse shock absorber. Plantar Fasciitis forms when the ligament experiences stress, tears or damage, and then initiates an inflammation response. The pain itself is attributed to the inflammation that is caused by the micro injury to the Plantar Fascia.
Plantar Fasciitis the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the foot. Research suggests that approximately 2 million people every year are treated for Plantar Fasciitis. Pain can range from mild to sharp, and typically gets worse with time if remedies are not sought. You may also experience Plantar Fasciitis in either one or both feet.
How do you get Plantar Fasciitis?
There are many ways to “get” Plantar Fasciitis. It can be the result of your unique physiology or can be environmentally caused. Some of the physiological reasons for getting it include tight calf muscles, if you’re overweight, have flat OR high arches, or have a unique walking pattern or gait that leads to stress on the Planter Fascia.
You may also get Plantar Fasciitis from your environment. Some of the most common causes are poor fitting footwear, spending too much time on your feet, foot hyperactivity from exercise, long-distance running, or jumping and landing on your feet harshly.
Whether you have Plantar Fasciitis because of your physiology or because of your environment, it’s important to remember that it can be treated just the same, albeit with different therapies.
How can you tell you have Plantar Fasciitis?
Foot and heel pain can be caused by several issues, but you likely are experiencing Plantar Fasciitis if you feel a sharp or stabbing pain in your heel. Another characteristic of Plantar Fasciitis is having foot or heel pain in the morning, which subsides after you are on your feet for a bit. You may also notice pain “flaring up” after you exercise. These are all telltale signs of Plantar Fasciitis.
What are the treatments for Plantar Fasciitis?
If you have Plantar Fasciitis, we like to work through several different therapies, based on your unique diagnosis, at County Wide Foot, Ankle and Wound Care Associates. For instance, if your condition is due to your unique foot physiology, we will identify ways to help change or support your foot shape. If it’s environmentally born, we suggest lifestyle changes and daily therapies. Some of the therapies we recommend or perform to treat Plantar Fasciitis include:
- Icing Daily: Ice the area for 20 minutes 2-3 times daily. Rolling the foot over a water bottle can be a great resource for this therapy.
- Change footwear: Suggest updating your footwear to more appropriate or supportive styles.
- Heel Cups: Heel cups, often with gel impact layers, help protect the heel from increased pain during activity and may help reduce the inflammation response.
- Arch Support, Insoles or Orthotics: Supplemental foot inserts that help support the foot either to re-align it more properly or bolster arch support. Custom orthotics are the best option as they are designed for your unique foot pattern and walking style and can be customized in our office.
- Night Splints: Specially designed compression wear that helps keep your feet flexed upward, maintaining a slight stretch in the Achilles Tendon and Plantar Fascia to help prevent morning pain.
- Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist on foot exercises to increase mobility and circulation to the foot. Physical therapy can also strengthen the foot muscles and provide you with alternatives to prevent movements that would otherwise cause inflammation.
- Cortisone Injections: When other therapies have not provided pain relief, cortisone shots may help alleviate the inflammation response.
- Surgery: If after 12 months of consecutive therapy the condition does not get better, special surgeries may be employed to relieve the pain and pressure on the Plantar Fascia. Surgery options include lengthening the calf muscles and releasing part of the Plantar Fascia. Surgery is a last resort option that you can review with your podiatrist when all other therapies have not helped.
Plantar Fasciitis vs Heel Spur
Sometimes, these two conditions can be confused with one another. This is another reason why it’s so important to have your feet checked by a podiatrist, as the treatment for each is very different.
Heel spurs are actually a type of bone spur, or calcium deposit, that develops on the heel bone. They cause small bumps on the heel bone at the point where the plantar fascia connects. It can be caused by heel trauma, or even Plantar Fasciitis itself. The body may develop heel spurs in response to Plantar Fasciitis to help give the heel more support. The majority of the pain people experience in their feet, however, is typically attributed to plantar fasciitis. As it turns out, heel spurs don’t often cause pain!
Your podiatrist may suggest x-rays to tell if you also have heel spurs along with Plantar Fasciitis. At County Wide Foot, Ankle and Wound Care Associates, we have an on-site x-ray machine to check for these types of conditions. Typically, you can avoid surgery by working through recommended at-home therapies or by meeting with a physical therapist. In rare cases, surgery is needed to remove the heel spur.
Whether you have recently developed foot and heel pain, or it has been with you for many years, there are proven therapies that you can employ now to help relieve your Plantar Fasciitis. Most patients experience a full recovery within 10 months of receiving care for their foot condition. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Garzon, DPM of County Wide Foot, Ankle and Wound Care Associates, please call our office at 561-369-3300.