FAQs on Plantar Fasciitis – Answered by a Phoenix Pain Management Clinic
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes heel pain. The plantar fascia is the thin, long ligament that lies beneath the skin on the bottom of the foot. This structure connects the front of the foot to the heel, and it supports the arch of the foot.
How common is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis affects around 2 million people in the United States each year.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia absorbs high strain and stresses placed on the feet. When there is too much pressure prolonged, it can damage or tear the supporting structures and tissues. The body’s response to injury is inflammation, which leads to stiffness of the plantar fascia as well as heel pain.
What are the risk factors for plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis often develops without a reason. However, there are several risk factors. These include:
- Tight calf muscles that make flexing the foot difficult
- New activity or an increase in usual activity
- Repetitive impact activities, such as running
- Have a high arch or flat feet
- Wear shoes with soft soles or poor arch support
Are heel spurs associated with plantar fasciitis?
Many patients with plantar fasciitis also have heel spurs. The spurs do not cause the pain. While one in 10 people have heel spurs, only 5% of these people experience foot pain.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain at the heel aspect of the foot, pain that is worse upon rising in the morning or after rest, and pain that is worse after exercise. The area of maximum tenderness is at the bottom of the foot, right in front of the heel bone. The pain worsens when you flex the foot or with pressure on the plantar fascia.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
The doctor will ask specific questions about your symptoms and take a history of the condition. To make sure the heel pain is not caused by another problem, the doctor will order imaging tests to rule out other causes of heel pain, such as arthritis, fracture, or bone growths.
What are the treatment options for plantar fasciitis?
The basic treatment for plantar fasciitis is resting the foot for several days and using ice to take away swelling. Other treatment options include:
- Medications – The standard medication used to treat plantar fasciitis is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen. These agents reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy – The doctor will work with you to learn certain stretching exercises. The plantar fascia stretch is performed in the seated position with your affected foot over the other leg. As you grasp the toes of the affected foot and pull them upward, it stretches the plantar fascia. Additionally, the calf stretch is used to stretch calf muscles, as well as the heel cord. Research reports show that PT has an 83% success rate for this condition.
- Cortisone injections – Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, often injected into the plantar fascia to reduce pain and take down inflammation. Several steroid injects could cause this structure to tear, so the doctor does not perform this often.
- Supportive shoes/orthotics – Shoes with extra cushion soles will reduce the pain with walking and prolonged standing. A shoe insert can reduce tension and microtrauma. In addition, silicone heel pads elevate and cushion the heel.
- Night splints – To relax the plantar fascia and keep the feet in proper alignment, a night splint is an effective device. This stretches the plantar fascia during sleep.
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – With this procedure, the doctor uses high-energy shockwave impulses to stimulate plantar fascia healing. This is a minimal risk procedure that has a 70-90% efficacy rate, according to clinical studies.