Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis, commonly known as "heel spurs," is a condition where the band of tissue extending from the heel to the toes, called the fascia, becomes inflamed and causes heel pain. It is the most common cause of heel pain, though this can also be due to a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation, or a cyst. Sometimes, it is referred to as heel spur syndrome because a spur is present in the heel.
The cause of heel pain should be diagnosed by an experienced podiatrist, since there are a number of conditions that can lead to such pain. At Premier Foot and Ankle of Plano, McKinney and Frisco, our podiatrists have the necessary medical knowledge to determine the cause of heel pain and treat it accordingly.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Most commonly, plantar fasciitis is a result of faulty foot structure and is most often found in individuals with overly flat feet or high-arched feet. Irritation is initially caused by wearing non-supportive shoes on hard, flat surfaces, and symptoms are most evident if the patient works long hours on his or her feet. Obesity is also a factor in combating the severity of the condition.
The most evident symptom of plantar fasciitis is distinct heel pain, often worsening upon rising and increasing over a period of time. Often, the pain is worse when first getting up in the morning or after sitting for a long time. The pain can be minimized by walking for a few minutes to stretch out the fascia, though spending long periods of time on one's feet can lead to a return of the painful symptoms.
Diagnosis of this condition requires your foot and ankle doctor to look closely at medical history and exam the affected foot, ruling out other possibilities for the cause of heel pain. Diagnostic imaging like x-rays may also be conducted. In some instances, patients will be found to have heel spurs, though these are rarely the source of the pain involved in the condition.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
The first attempts at treatment of plantar fasciitis can be done at home.
- Stretching exercises can focus on the calf muscles to ease the pain in the fascia.
- Icing the affected heel for 20 minutes several times a day will reduce inflammation (do not apply ice directly to the foot).
- Avoid going barefoot to lessen strain and stress on the plantar fascia.
- Limit extended physical activities that aggravate the symptoms and allow the heel to rest.
- Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce swelling and pain in the heel.
- Wearing shoes with a good, supportive arch and a slightly elevated heel will reduce stress to the heel and the plantar fascia.
If these methods are attempted with pain continuing several weeks later, our podiatrists may recommend one or more of the following additional treatments:
- Orthotic devices customized to fit in your shoe and correct the structural abnormalities of the foot.
- Injection therapy with corticosteroid injections to help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Padding and strapping to soften impact while walking and support the foot so the fascia is strained less.
- Walking cast removable for immobilization of the foot to allow for several weeks of healing and rest.
- Night splint to keep the plantar fascia stretched while sleeping and reduce morning pain.
- Physical therapy to help provide relief from pain.
Most patients will respond to some or all of these exercises and treatments, though a small number require corrective surgery. If several months of treatment do not rid you of heel pain, surgery may be recommended. Our podiatrists will discuss the surgical options with you to decide on the best approach.
Regardless of treatment undergone, plantar fasciitis requires a continuation of preventative measures because the underlying cause will remain. Supportive shoes, stretches, and custom orthotic devices are the main long-term preventative treatments for this painful and ongoing condition.
Request an appointment with Premier Foot & Ankle for Computer Gait Analysis in Frisco, TX, Plano, TX or McKinney, TX today.