Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of pain that is felt at the bottom of the heel. Roughly 2 million people across the county are treated for this condition each year. The plantar fascia ligament is a thick band of tissue attached to the heel bone and toes, which serves as shock absorbers to support the arch of the foot.
Pressure on the ligament causes it to become inflamed, which leads to pain and stiffness in the heel. The pain from plantar fasciitis is usually most pronounced when you take your first steps after getting out of bed, or after long periods of being inactive.
Most people commonly associate plantar fasciitis with runners, though it can be diagnosed in almost anyone, regardless of their physical activity level. Health professionals say that increased pressure on the plantar fascia causes the symptoms of plantar fasciitis to develop. Sometimes the pressure placed on your heel will damage or tear the tissue. Your body’s natural response to the injury in your heel is inflammation, which results in stiffness and pain it the heel. People who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of developing the condition.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
First, a podiatrist will give you a physical exam to check for pain and/or tenderness in the foot and heel. Their goal is to determine the exact location of your pain in order to rule out other foot conditions. After that, the podiatrist will likely recommend various stretches to test the strength and health of your plantar fascia ligaments. If the cause of your heel pain can’t be diagnosed with a physical examination, your doctor will x-ray your foot to see if there is a stress fracture or some other issue that is causing the pain.
What Is the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Basic treatments for plantar fasciitis at Unruh Spine Center includes things like rest, ice, and avoiding specific exercises or activities. The following methods can also be used to treat the ailment:
- Orthotics/ Padding: Custom designed orthotics or heel pads can be used to cushion the foot and subside the pain.
- Stretches: Performing specific stretches can elongate the plantar fascia ligament and relieve the pain.
- Night Splint: Doctors sometimes recommend a night splint to keep your foot at a specific angle to prevent ligaments from contracting while you sleep.
- Injections: Anti-inflammatory steroid injections can be given to relieve inflammation and pain.
In more severe cases, surgery might be necessary to treat plantar fasciitis. The most common surgical procedure is known as a plantar fascia release. During this procedure, a surgeon releases a piece of the plantar fascia ligament from the heel bone which relieves the tension and pain. Surgery is usually reserved as a last effort if conservative approaches fail to relieve the stiffness and pain.