Plantar Fasciitis: What Causes It and What Can Be Done About It
Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition causing pain on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a ligament connecting the heel to the front of the foot. When this ligament is inflamed, you may experience stabbing pains near your heel. This is what is known as plantar fasciitis.
What triggers plantar fasciitis?
If you’re experiencing the pain and annoyance of plantar fasciitis, chances are you’re eager to do what you can to improve it and prevent it from returning. The pain is usually centered around the bottom of the heel, and you may experience swelling. Plantar fasciitis tends to be most painful when you get up in the morning, gradually decreasing throughout the day. Sometimes the discomfort is eased by activity, while too much activity, for some people, can exacerbate the pain. But how did you get it in the first place? Common causes and risk factors include:
- Wearing shoes with poor support
- Exercising on hard surfaces
- Overstretching your feet while exercising
- Dramatically increasing your activity level, especially walking, or running more
- Being very overweight
- Having flat feet or very high arches
- Age-related loss of the fatty tissue under your heel
Can plantar fasciitis be cured?
Plantar fasciitis tends to respond well to conservative treatment. In more extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. Depending on the cause and severity of your case, you may be able to recover completely within a few months. Treatment options include:
- Dialing down your activity levels: If you are a runner, decreasing your running distance will help you recover. You may want to consider switching to a lower-impact form of exercise while you recover, such as swimming.
- Changing exercise surface or shoes: Shoes with better arch support and cushioning will relieve the stress on your plantar fascia, as will exercising on a shock-absorbing surface. If you normally run on the pavement, try switching to a dirt trail.
- Icing: Applying a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack to your heel every few hours can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Stretching: Gentle stretching exercises can help relieve the pain. Your physical therapist can show you special stretches that focus on the fascia and Achilles tendon.
- Steroid injections: If your symptoms don’t seem to be improving, steroid injections can help decrease inflammation.
- Medication: Pain medication such as ibuprofen can help ease your symptoms.
What if gentle treatment doesn’t work?
If your plantar fasciitis doesn’t seem to be responding to less invasive treatment options, it may be time to see an orthopedic surgeon. At Progressive Spine and Orthopaedics, Dr. Bernstein is our board-certified foot and ankle surgeon. The surgery Dr. Bernstein performs for plantar fasciitis is called an endoscopic plantar fasciotomy, or EPF. During an EPF, Dr. Bernstein detaches the fascia from your heel bone to relieve tension and swelling.
Most people suffering from plantar fasciitis won’t need surgery. However, if you’ve been unsuccessful with conservative treatments, you may wish to contact an orthopedic surgeon to hear about the advanced treatments to resolve the condition. Feel free to reach out to Progressive Spine and Orthopaedics. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have!