What Is Plantar Fasciitis

June 05, 2020

The closest we can get to defining Plantar Fasciitis is to call it inflammation of your plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a tissue that connects the heel with the front of the foot. This type of injury is similar to a tennis elbow just on your foot. 

What probably happens is that your fascia is inflamed and thickens. In some cases, it probably degenerates, as well.

Symptoms for Plantar Fasciitis

You will recognize plantar fasciitis as a stabbing, shooting pain in your heel, especially in the morning or after staying off your feet for a longer time. Sometimes, the pain is present in the middle part of your foot, but the heel is usually the biggest problem.

Generally, the pain is present in only one foot but sometimes can happen in both feet. Symptoms can lessen during mild physical activity and almost entirely vanish, only to return after a while when the activity stops and your feet cool down. 

In many cases, the pain from plantar fasciitis is a slow-growing pain. It takes time for it to develop and many people report that it cleared up for them without any medical attention. Others suffer from it for years and it turns into a stubborn, chronic disease that prevents people from enjoying many physical activities.

Causes for Plantar Fasciitis

It is difficult to determine the precise cause of plantar fasciitis because there are usually many possible factors present at the same time. The one, unique root cause of these conditions hasn’t been pinpointed but there are three most frequently reported causes:

  • Bone spurs
  • Pronation and flat feet
  • Tight calves

People who seem to be in a higher risk of getting plantar fasciitis are menopausal women, women between 40 and 70 years of age, pregnant women in later stages of their pregnancy, people who stand for the better part of their day, obese people, senior people, runners and those who walk on the pavement for many hours within a day.

Trouble with Diagnosis

When trying to diagnose you, your doctor will probably ask you about the location of your pain. They will try to recreate your pain by pushing your fascia as you flex your foot. This is because your doctor needs to be sure that it is your fascia that hurts and it’s not another, foot-related problem.

Another thing that they may check is your muscles and reflexes to determine that you don’t have any neurological condition that causes your pain. 

It is possible that you may need an ultrasound or MRI to exclude the possibility of other diagnoses. For differential diagnosis, among others, your doctor may try to exclude the possibility of:

  • Stress fracture
  • Heel spurs
  • Bursitis
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Heel bruise
  • Plantar fibromatosis

Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

As the first aid for the pain caused by plantar fasciitis, you should try resting your feet and applying the icing. Your next step is to try and find braces that will support our feet. Anti-inflammatory pain killers are a step after icing and resting. Those that still have prominent pain after these steps will probably have to consider getting an injection into the foot.

To soothe the effects of this issue in case of more chronic disease, doctors will usually recommend physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to stretch both your plantar fascia and surrounding tendons. Another way to do physical therapy is to do exercises to fortify your muscles which will help you release some of the pressure that your plantar fascia endures.

There is also an option of surgery when it comes to plantar fasciitis. However, the results of surgery are not always 100% positive. Since the surgery involves disconnecting your fascia from the heel, it can result in limited movement. That is why surgery is usually used as the last resort.

Prevention

Since the treatments for plantar fasciitis are not entirely effective for everybody, you should prevent it if you can. Some of the things you can do today to prevent this inconvenient condition include:

  • Wear appropriate footwear that offers enough support
  • Replace your sports shoes regularly – for runners this means every 400 miles
  • Prioritize swimming and cycling instead of running
  • Always stretch your feet before straining them
  • Maintain healthy weight

Plantar fasciitis is one of those conditions that don’t sound too serious, but their impact on your lifestyle can be tremendous. Being one of the most common orthopedic conditions, it is expected that great number of people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. Since the treatment options leave a lot to be desired, it is advisable to try and prevent this condition altogether by including several lifestyle changes into your daily routine.

Nondiscrimination Notice

Dr. Bagwe is an Orthopedic Surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri | As a world class lower extremity specialist Dr. Bagwe treats disorders of the knee, foot and ankle which cause acute or chronic pain. With several locations in the St. Louis metro area, we offer solutions for Arthritis, Sprains and strains, Bursitis and tendonitis, Fractures, sports related injuries, work related injuries, stress fracture, Cubital tunnel syndrome, Knee ligament tear (ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL), Meniscal (cartilage) tear, Heel spurs, Plantar fasciitis, Shin splints, Hammer toe and other toe disorders, Achilles tendon problems, Bunions, and more.

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