What is Plantar Fasciitis?
When our patients complain of heel pain, the first thing we tend to look for is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick connective tissue that connects your heel bone to the ball of your foot.
The signature symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing heel pain of the bottom of the foot that affects the heel with your first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain usually subsides. But it could return throughout the day, after long periods of standing, sitting, or lying down.
Plantar fasciitis isn’t typically the result of heel spurs (bone spur). A heel spur is a hook of bone that can form on the heel bone, about 70% of patients with plantar fasciitis are found to have a heel spur that can be seen on x-ray. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 1 in 10 people have a heel spur, but only 1 in 20 people with heel spurs experiences pain.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot. Its job is to absorb the shock of impact when your foot meets the ground. It’s a little stretchy, which allows the arch of the foot to spring back into shape after lift-off.
But in some cases, the tension between the heel and the forefoot becomes too great, like overstretching a rubber band. This leaves tiny tears all along the plantar fascia. Over time, with repetitive stretching and tearing, the fascia becomes inflamed, resulting in foot pain and irritation.
What causes such severe tension in the fascia? It could be a combination of risk factors, stemming from overuse, excessive load-bearing, or too much movement within the foot. If you have structural foot problems, such as very high arches or very flat feet, you may develop plantar fasciitis as well. Plantar fasciitis is more common in runners, as well as people who are overweight. Additionally, wearing flimsy or worn-out shoes, with little-to-no arch support, can also cause the arch to collapse too much, and stretch the limits of the fascia.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Stabbing pain in the heel.
- Chronic pain.
- Intense pain after a long period of rest.
- Pain that eases during physical activity.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Many cases can be treated conservatively. Physical therapy for plantar fasciitis is usually a part of this treatment, as well as:
- A physical therapist can instruct you in a series of stretching exercises for the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen lower leg muscles, which stabilize your ankle and heel.
- Orthotics – Over-the-counter or custom-fitted orthotics can support the arch and help redistribute your weight across your foot.
- Night splints for plantar fasciitis– These hold the foot in a flexed position, stretching the calf and arch while you’re asleep. This can keep the fascia from shrinking as it heals overnight.
If conservative treatments for your plantar fasciitis don’t work, we can employ more advanced procedures.
- Steroid injections (anti-inflammatory) for plantar fasciitis – These can provide temporary pain relief.
- PRP for plantar fasciitis – Uses your own blood to relieve pain and speed up recovery.
- Tenex procedure – Tenex is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical technique that uses ultrasonic energy to cut and clear out damaged soft tissue. This groundbreaking new treatment has been proven to reduce pain and improve function in tricky cases of tendonitis. Tenex leaves little or no scarring, and recovery time is minimal; most patients can return to work the same day.
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis visit our office to learn what our award-winning pain management specialist can do for your quality of life. Nuvo pain management specialists are specially trained to provide conservative nonsurgical treatment for pain relief.
Call our office for your consultation today, and take the first step towards a pain-free life.