Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Treatment

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Treatment

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Treatment

by Jonathan Deming, D.P.M.

One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis; fortunately, it’s also something that in most cases can be successfully treated.

So, what is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament that runs from the heel bone through the arch of the foot. It can become inflamed through overuse, strain or chronic stress, leading to a feeling like you’re stepping down on something sharp at your heel. Sometimes the pain radiates out through the arch of the foot.

Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include sharp pain in the heel and/or the arch of the foot, especially first thing in the morning or after sitting, resting or being on your feet for a period of time. It typically occurs without injury or trauma, seemingly out of the blue.

High Risk

If it’s not related to an injury, then what is a likely cause of plantar fasciitis?
The No. 1 cause of plantar fasciitis is tightness in the calf muscles or Achilles tendon, a condition known as equinus. It is common in runners, who may get it because of the repetitive stress of pounding feet on pavement or from inadequate stretching. People who are on their feet for hours, including teachers, factory and retail workers are also among those more likely to experience it.

Heel spurs may also cause the pain of plantar fasciitis, but the two are not always related. It is possible to have heel spurs without plantar fasciitis and vice versa.

Treatment

Remember thinking you’d stretch later? Well, if you have plantar fasciitis, the time has come. One of the fundamental keys to preventing and treating plantar fasciitis is stretching your calves and your Achilles tendon.

Stretches

Several stretches can help relieve the pain and keep plantar fasciitis from recurring.

  • Runner’s stretch – put one leg behind the other, foot flat on the floor and lean into a wall or countertop to stretch the calf of the back leg
  • Stair stretch – hang your heels off a curb or step, and lean forward, so that your heel is stretched downward
  • Sitting stretch – wrap a towel or stretchy band around the ball of your foot and pull it toward you

Shockwave therapy

For chronic plantar fasciitis, your doctor might recommend Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT), a non-invasive treatment that shocks the plantar fascia with sound waves. It promotes blood flow to the area and healing.

The treatment is easily performed in a doctor’s office. A gel is applied to the bottom of the foot, and a wand-like device is then moved over the area, releasing a rapid series of pulse or pressure waves. Treatment lasts about 10 minutes and does not require anesthesia.

Following treatment, patients can walk out and return to daily life. Generally three treatments at weekly intervals are recommended.

More than 80 percent of patients treated with EPAT report being pain free or having pain significantly reduced.

Other treatments:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Supportive shoes or inserts
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery to release the plantar fascia

The key to a cure

Plantar fasciitis can last for months, leading sufferers to think the pain will never go away. But, that doesn’t have to be case. The key to relieving the pain and keeping it at bay is arch support, stretching and continuing to stretch, even after the symptoms have eased.

For chronic cases, when home remedies aren’t giving the results you want, see your doctor. Shockwave therapy and/or surgery are options that provide life-long results for most patients.

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