What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when connective tissue becomes inflamed to the point of pain. The thick tissue that connects the ball of the foot to the heel is called the fascia. This tissue is responsible for the arch of the foot. This condition is most commonly found in men age 40-70 and is the leading cause of orthopedic care for the feet.
Patients who have plantar fasciitis often limp out of bed first thing in the morning with sharp pain. When the fascia loosens with use (such as walking), the pain will subside a bit. The first few steps of the day are often the most painful because the fascia is not stretched or used during sleep.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Arch problems – both flat or high – can cause fascia issues. Also, obesity or sudden weight gain is often to blame. The fascia can adjust only so far before it is stretched to the point of pain. Long-distance running, running on uneven surfaces, or having a tight Achilles tendon are also causes. Finally, wearing shoes without proper arch support can cause fascia inflammation.
While heel spurs (or calcium deposits) are commonly found in plantar fasciitis patients, they are not the cause of the pain. They are a reaction by the bone to the fascia’s inflammation.
To diagnose plantar fasciitis, a pain physician will take a series of X-rays of the foot. If a bone spur is present, plantar fasciitis is a likely diagnosis. Additionally, physicians will look for a thickening and inflammation of the fascia from the ball of the foot to the heel. The physician may also look for hairpin fractures in the bones around the foot that are also common in those experiencing this type of pain.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis are stiffness on the bottom of the heel, an ache on the arch, and a sharp pain or burn when first putting weight on the foot. The pain may be more severe if climbing stairs or performing intense activity. This pain may come on with time or may be intense and sudden. It is not uncommon for swelling and redness to also be present.
Treatment options range from over-the-counter NSAIDS (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) to reduce inflammation to stretching, cortisone shots, and sonic wave procedures.
Depending on the severity of the inflammation, the patient may respond favorably to stretching, ice, rest, and wearing orthotics when standing. Additionally, there is athletic tape and splints manufactured for fascia stretching and ease of plantar fasciitis-related pain.
Various treatments are available for Plantar Fasciitis.
Over-the-counter NSAIDS (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) may help reduce inflammation.