Fri Jun 9, 2023
Most people have heard of plantar fasciitis, but does anyone know what the specific symptoms entail?
Around 2 million patients are treated for plantar fasciitis yearly.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is a foot condition that causes intense, stabbing pain at the bottom of the foot near the heel. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that supports the foot’s arch, becomes inflamed. This results in pain in the heel and arch.
Understanding the causes, prevention strategies, and treatment options for plantar fasciitis is essential for managing the condition effectively and finding relief.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The pain is often most noticeable during the first steps in the morning or after periods of rest, gradually improving with activity.
The plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber and helps maintain the foot’s arch, but excessive strain can lead to micro-tears and subsequent inflammation.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by various factors, including:
- Overuse and repetitive strain: Activities that involve repetitive impact on the feet, such as running, jumping, or prolonged standing, can strain the plantar fascia.
- Foot structure and mechanics: Certain foot conditions like flat feet or high arches can alter the distribution of weight on the feet, putting extra stress on the plantar fascia.
- Abnormal walking patterns, such as excessive pronation or supination, can also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
- Tight calf muscles can impair the foot’s ability to absorb shock effectively, which subjects the plantar fascia to greater stress and strain.
- Excess body weight or obesity: The additional weight increases the load on the feet, leading to increased strain on the plantar fascia.
- Improper footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper arch support, cushioning, or shock absorption can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. High heels and shoes with inadequate support can strain the plantar fascia.
- Jobs: work that requires prolonged standing on flat surfaces: teachers, nurses, factory workers.
- Age: Plantar Fasciitis is most prevalent for those aged 40-60
How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis
Taking proactive measures to prevent plantar fasciitis can help reduce the risk of developing the condition. Prevention strategies include:
- Choose shoes with good arch support, cushioning, and stability.
- Consider orthotic inserts or custom-made orthotics for additional support.
- Gradually increase physical activity levels to allow the feet to adapt. Sudden or excessive changes in activity can strain the plantar fascia.
- Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Perform stretching exercises for the calf muscles and plantar fascia regularly.
- Use appropriate footwear. For example, choose running shoes when running and supportive shoes for standing for long periods.
Non-Surgical Treatment Methods
Most cases of plantar fasciitis can be effectively treated without surgery. Non-surgical treatment options include:
- Resting and icing the affected foot to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Stretching exercises that specifically target the calf muscles can improve flexibility and relieve tension.
- Using orthotic devices or shoe inserts to provide arch support and cushioning.
- Physical therapy can play a crucial role in treating plantar fasciitis.
Surgical Treatment Methods
After several months, if non-surgical and other conservative treatment methods aren’t working, your podiatrist may recommend:
- Plantar Fascia Release: This procedure involves partially cutting the plantar fascia to relieve tension and reduce inflammation.
- Heel Spur Removal: a doctor can perform heel spur removal surgery to release tension.
- Gastrocnemius Recession: through surgery, the calf muscle is lengthened which reduces the strain on the plantar fascia.
Surgical intervention is typically reserved for severe or chronic cases of plantar fasciitis that have not responded to conservative treatments. Overall, surgery is generally considered a last resort.
Other Treatment Methods
- Corticosteroid Injections: administered directly into the affected area, providing temporary relief.
- Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT): a non-invasive procedure that involves using high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing in the affected area. It helps break down scar tissue, promote blood flow, and reduce pain.
- Ultrasonic Tissue Repair: a newer treatment option that utilizes ultrasonic energy to break down damaged tissue and promote healing. Ultrasonic tissue repair targets the diseased tissue in the plantar fascia while preserving healthy tissue.
It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist, to determine the most appropriate treatment approach based on individual circumstances and severity of the condition. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation and discuss the potential risks, benefits, and expected outcomes of each treatment option.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
Following any treatment for plantar fasciitis, proper recovery and rehabilitation are crucial. This may involve:
- Resting and allowing the foot to heal after surgery or any invasive procedure.
- Gradually reintroducing weight-bearing activities and exercises under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
- Physical therapy sessions to improve strength, flexibility, and restore normal foot mechanics.
- Wearing appropriate footwear and using supportive measures, such as orthotic inserts, to provide continued support and prevent recurrence.
- Following post-treatment care instructions and attending follow-up appointments to monitor progress and address any concerns.
Recovery times can vary depending on the individual, the chosen treatment method, and the extent of the condition. It’s important to be patient, follow the recommended guidelines, and communicate regularly with the healthcare provider to ensure the best possible outcome.
What Happens If Plantar Fasciitis is Left Untreated
If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can lead to various complications and negatively impact your daily life. Here are some potential consequences of untreated plantar fasciitis:
Chronic Pain: The longer the condition goes untreated, the more likely it is for the pain to become chronic, making it increasingly challenging to find relief.
Activity Limitations: Walking, running, and standing for long periods can become increasingly difficult, affecting your overall mobility and quality of life.
Altered Gait and Posture: To compensate for the pain, individuals with untreated plantar fasciitis may unknowingly alter their gait and posture. This compensation can lead to imbalances, increased risk of secondary injuries, and contribute to the development of additional foot or leg conditions.
Foot Deformities: In some cases, untreated plantar fasciitis can result in the development of foot deformities. The altered biomechanics and persistent stress on the plantar fascia can cause changes in the foot’s structure, such as flat feet, high arches, or abnormalities in toe alignment (such as bunions).
Impact on Daily Functioning: Limitations associated with untreated plantar fasciitis can significantly impact your ability to perform daily activities, work, exercise, and participate in recreational pursuits, and a diminished overall quality of life.
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Early Prevention is Key
It is tantamount to seek treatment for plantar fasciitis as early as possible to prevent these complications. With proper intervention, you can manage plantar fasciitis and alleviate your symptons.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you suspect that you have plantar fasciitis, it is advisable to see a doctor, particularly a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist, for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Here are some indications of when you should seek medical attention:
- Persistent Pain the heel that lasts for several weeks, despite rest and home remedies
- Difficulty Walking or Performing Daily Activities.
- If your symptoms of plantar fasciitis worsen or fail to improve with self-care measures.
- Presence of Additional Risk Factors or Complications such as obesity, diabetes, or a history of foot or leg injuries,
- Uncertain Diagnosis: If you are unsure whether or not you have plantar fasciitis symptoms, see a doctor.
A healthcare professional will perform a thorough evaluation, including a physical examination, review of your medical history, and possibly diagnostic tests like X-rays or ultrasound, to confirm the diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan.
Get A Doctor’s Opinion Today
Here at Appel Foot & Ankle Center, we offer the highest standard of care in podiatry and seek to make your visit stress-free and discover effective solutions for your foot pain. Make an appointment today and we will find remedies to resolve your foot and ankle problems so that you may live your life without pain and resume your favorite activities. You deserve to enjoy a quality lifestyle.