Plantar fasciitis is an equal-opportunity offender in that it affects a diverse population of individuals, not simply athletes. In the United States alone, plantar fasciitis affects approximately two million people. As one of the most common culprits of heel pain, plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia—the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot. Since this band runs from the heel bone to the toe, forming the arch of the foot, it can be quite uncomfortable and painful when plantar fasciitis is present.
At OrthoAspen our elite-grade orthopedic specialists routinely help individuals with a plantar fasciitis diagnosis. There are a number of treatment options to help relieve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis to get patients back to the active, pain-free lifestyle they enjoy.
Although plantar fasciitis can happen to anyone, it’s most prevalent in middle-aged men and women and also occurs in those who are constantly on their feet, such as soldiers. Other risk factors may include obesity; foot arch problems such as flat feet or high arches; activities and sports such as long-distance running; ballet and dance aerobics and occupations that necessitate walking or standing.
Since the plantar fascia functions as a shock absorber and support to the arch of the foot, excessive pressure over the fascia may strain and tear the tissue. Repeated overstretching or overuse also irritates or inflames the fascia.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel
- Pain and discomfort upon awakening and taking first steps
- Pain that slowly decreases, but may return after standing for a long period
To determine if plantar fasciitis present, your OrthoAspen doctor will examine your foot and will check for the signs of flat feet or high arches, tenderness, swelling, redness and stiffness or tightness of the foot arch.
In some cases, your physician may suggest an X-ray or MRI scan to rule out other causes of heel pain such as a stress fracture or pinched nerve.
Whenever possible, OrthoAspen foot and ankle specialists will try to treat plantar fasciitis with non-surgical, conservative treatment methods, which include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids can be injected directly into the plantar fascia which may offer pain relief and reduce inflammation.
Taking it easy, combined with avoiding activities that worsen the pain will aid the healing process.
An ice-pack can be applied over the painful area at least twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes for the first few days.
- Night Splints
Night splints stretch the plantar fascia and allow it to heal.
- Supportive Shoes and Orthotics
Shoes with good support and cushioning and/or custom orthotics (shoe inserts) are helpful in addressing plantar fasciitis.
- Physical Therapy
Our OrthoAspen physical therapists may design an exercise program that focuses on stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen the muscles of the lower leg. In addition to exercises, application of athletic taping to support the bottom of the foot may also help relieve symptoms.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
Sound waves are targeted onto the painful area to stimulate the healing process.
Occasionally, surgery to release the tight plantar fascia, may be needed.
No matter what treatment pathway an OrthoAspen physician suggests to address plantar fasciitis, it’s important for patients to know that our goal is to find a safe and effective solution to get you back in motion as soon as possible.
If you suspect you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis and would like a consultation with one of our OrthoAspen orthopedic experts, get started by clicking here or call us any time at 970-544-1289.