Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot which connects your heel to the front of the foot. Pain occurs when that band of tissue (that supports the arch of your foot) becomes irritated and inflamed.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The purpose of the plantar fascia ligament is to absorb the high stress and strains we place on our feet. But sometimes too much pressure damages or tears the tissue, and because our body’s natural response to injury is inflammation, it results in heel pain and stiffness. Plantar fasciitis often develops for no specific reason, but many factors can make you prone to it:
- Tight calf muscles, which make it hard to flex your foot and bring your toes toward your shin
- Very high arch
- Repetitive impact activity
- New or increased activity
How do you know you have Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain on the bottom of your foot near the heel
- Pain with your first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning or after a long period of rest; pain subsides after a few minutes of walking
- Greater pain after (not during) exercise or activity
How does OSI fix Plantar Fasciitis?
The board-certified OSI foot and ankle team is specially skilled in treating plantar fasciitis. After discussing your concerns and giving your feet a thorough exam, your OSI orthopedic doctor will create a treatment plan that works best for you. Your OSI doctor may perform some or all of the following:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will perform a careful exam of your foot and look for a high arch, an area of tenderness on the bottom of your foot in front of your heel bone, pain that gets worse when you flex your foot, and limited “up” motion of your ankle.
- X-rays: An x-ray may be ordered to ensure there are no other causes for your heel pain like fractures or arthritis.
More than 90 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve within ten months of starting simple treatments. Your OSI orthopedic specialist will discuss the best course of action for alleviating your pain. Some or all of the following may be suggested:
- Decrease or even stop activities that make your pain worse
- Rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle for 20 minutes
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen (do not use them for more than a month without talking to your doctor)
- Stretching your calves and plantar fascia
- Cortisone injections
- Night splints. Most people sleep with their feet pointed down, which relaxes the plantar fascia and can cause morning heel pain. A night splint will stretch the plantar fascia while you sleep.
Surgery is usually only a consideration after 12 months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment. Options will be discussed in detail with your OSI doctor but may include gastrocnemius recession or plantar fascia release.
Most OSI patients report good results after surgery, but there is a chance of nerve damage and incomplete pain relief after surgery. Because the surgery can result in chronic pain and dissatisfaction, it is only recommended after all nonsurgical measures have been exhausted.