Injury Education: Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an injury that has been in the news a lot lately. Whether it’s hampering some of our favorite athletes, keeping avid runners on the couch, or even affecting you personally, chances are you’ve probably heard about it. But do you really know what it is?
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain in the heel area of the foot and affects approximately 2 million people every year. The injury might have a complex-sounding name, but the causes are actually pretty simple, so let’s explore it in a little more depth.
The cause of the injury is excess pressure on the plantar fascia, which creates inflammation and sometimes tears in the tissues of the heel.
What’s a plantar fascia? It’s the long ligament that connects your heel with the rest of your foot and supports your arches. You may not have heard of it, but you’ve definitely felt it before when you’ve touched the underside of your heel and foot.
Plantar Fasciitis typically occurs in individuals with one or some combination of the following factors:
- Excess running or physical activity
- Standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time
- High arches of the feet
- Tight calf muscles that restrict movement of the foot
- Inappropriate footwear
- Unequal leg length
It can often affect athletes who experience multiple of these risk factors at once, but obesity exists as an isolated factor. 70% of people with plantar fasciitis also struggle with obesity, and studies have shown that there is a strong association between weight and likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis.
The most obvious symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in the heel and underside of the foot, but some more distinct conditions can also help identify the injury. Increased intensity of pain after long periods of rest is also a common symptom, as is increased pain during physical activity. If you experience greater pain directly after waking up in the morning and then decreased pain for the rest of the day, you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you think you might have plantar fasciitis, it’s important to visit with a physician or orthopaedic specialist to have your foot evaluated. Your doctor may order tests such as x-rays or MRIs to help diagnose the inflammation of your heel.
Once diagnosis is confirmed, some very simple nonsurgical treatments can usually be used to heal the injury within 6 months. Some of these treatments include:
- Pain medication
- Stretching and exercise
- Cortisone injections
- Supportive orthotics
- Physical therapy
Surgical treatments are often only needed in the most severe cases, and usually won’t even be considered until after months of aggressive nonsurgical treatments have been tried.
We Can Help
Our foot and ankle team specializes in treating and working with patients who suffer from injuries like plantar fasciitis, so if you’re dealing with these or other significant foot symptoms, schedule a time to meet with our team, and let’s get you moving again.
For more information about plantar fasciitis, check out any of these great informational sources: