What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain, with some researchers estimating that the condition affects up to two million Americans per year. The plantar fascia is a thick tissue that starts in the heel and fans out to the toes, connecting muscles of the foot to bone. Plantar fasciitis is the result of strain to the foot, sometimes caused by jumping or long periods of standing.
Heel spurs are a common complication of plantar fasciitis. They occur when the body uses bone tissues instead of collagen to repair a damaged plantar fascia. Most heel spurs have no symptoms.
Dull or sharp heel pain is the main symptom of plantar fasciitis. A feeling of burning on the bottom of the foot is another possible symptom. The pain is usually worse:
- After long periods of standing or sitting
- After walking, running, jumping or other activity
- When taking the first steps in the morning after waking up
- While climbing stairs
Causes and risk factors of plantar fasciitis include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Having a tight Achilles tendon
- Overtraining or suddenly increasing running distance
- Running on uneven surfaces
- Wearing poor running shoes
Doctors will take a medical history and physical examination to arrive at a plantar fasciitis diagnosis, as well as to rule out other foot problems. X-rays can also help rule out other conditions.
Conservative treatments are usually recommended before surgery. These can include:
- A night splint to stretch out the foot
- Good shoes
- Orthotics, which are custom shoe inserts
- Over-the-counter painkillers
- Steroid injections
- Use of a boot cast
If these nonsurgical interventions prove ineffective, surgery may be necessary. The surgery is called plantar fascia release and involves cutting out the portion of plantar fascia that is causing pain. Plantar fascia release usually does not require a hospital stay, but a cast or splint may be necessary, and patients are recommended to avoid putting weight on the affected foot for up to two weeks.
People who have plantar fasciitis due to tight calf muscles may benefit from a gastrocnemius recession procedure. This procedure is the surgical lengthening of one of the calf muscles. When the muscle is longer, it does not pull on the plantar fascia as hard, thus potentially relieving the pressure and the pain.
Request an Appointment
If you’d like to request an appointment, follow the link below and answer a few short questions. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for choosing Summit Medical Group.