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Plantar Fasciitis

PlantarFasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the breakdown or degeneration of plantar fascia along the bottom of the foot. Plantar fascia is a thick, tendon-like tissue responsible for connecting the toes to the heel bone and forming a normal arch in the foot.

Patients with plantar fasciitis experience swelling and inflammation, leading to the inability to walk or bear weight if left untreated. Over-stretching of the plantar fascia leads to tiny small tears in the fibers, leading to pain as a major symptom of plantar fasciitis.

What Are the Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

Causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • foot arch disorders such as high arches or flat feet
  • poor footwear without proper arch support
  • over-stretching of the plantar fascia due to high impact activities
  • walking or running on uneven surfaces
  • tight Achilles tendon
  • aging—older patients are more likely to have loser, less elastic plantar fascia
  • diabetes

What Are Some of the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis can occur acutely or chronically. Common symptoms include:

  • severe heel pain in the morning—called first-step pain
  • tenderness on the bottom of the feet
  • presence of heel spurs—bony projections from the heel bone
  • stiffness in the bottom of the heel
  • pain in the bottom of the foot

What to Expect During Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis at the Podiatrist

A physical exam, as well as an evaluation of your complete medical history and lifestyle, is key for your podiatrist to diagnose plantar fasciitis. Also common is a gait test to evaluate your walk and determine if you are flat-footed—rigid or flexible flat feet—or experiencing tightness in your Achilles tendon.

Treatment for plantar fasciitis depends on if it's acute or chronic and can include:

  • NSAIDs to reduce pain and inflammation
  • splints at night to stretch the feet
  • rest
  • custom-fitted orthotics and insoles
  • cortisone shots to the heel
  • physical therapy
  • taping the bottom of the foot with plantar fasciitis
  • avoid high impact activities
  • surgery—only for chronic conditions that do not respond to other nonsurgical forms of treatment

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