Plantar fasciitis is an extremely common condition that affects more than 3 million Americans each year. It is the most frequent cause of pain in the heel, presenting most commonly in middle aged people, but it can also occur in younger people who spend a lot of time on their feet. It presents as a stabbing pain in the heel that is typically most severe during the first few steps in the morning, or upon rising after prolonged sitting, but it can also increase during extended periods of standing or walking. It can present in one foot, or both feet simultaneously.
The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel of the foot to the toes, running along the entire length of the sole of the foot. It supports the long arch of the foot, and under ideal conditions it acts like a shock absorber for the normal bounce and spring of daily weight bearing activities. However, under excessive repetitive stress, the fibers of the plantar fascia are prone to microtears and loss of elasticity, resulting in the slow accumulation of swelling, most commonly near the heel. This swelling increases pressure, and causes the slow onset of pain in that area. With continued activity, the pain often increases over time and can become debilitating.
Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include, but are not limited to: 1) Stabbing, aching or burning pain in the sole of the foot, often focusing near the heel. 2) Pain that is worse upon rising, eases notably with initial activity, but often returns later in the day. 3) Pain that is persistent or recurrent over a long period of time. 4) Notable swelling, redness or heat in the sole of the foot near the area of the heel.
There are many situations and conditions that present increased risk factors for plantar fasciitis, such as: 1) Excessive pronation, or walking on the outside of your feet. 2) Being overweight. 3) Having high arches, or very flat feet. 4) Spending long hours standing or walking on hard surfaces. 5) Wearing tight or unsupportive shoes. 6) Having extremely tight calf muscles and/or Achilles tendon.
Treatment options for plantar fasciitis varies depending on many factors, such as severity of pain/inflammation and level of daily activity. Some instances are self-treatable, utilizing a combination of rest and ice to allow the condition to resolve. However, many cases require more involved direct treatment including a combination of structural manipulation, stretching and stabilization exercises, orthotics, therapeutic ultrasound, cold laser therapy, and injection therapy. In extreme cases, surgery is required to separate the plantar fascia from the heel, but this option should only be used as a last resort since it tends to result in a long-term destabilization of the arch. At Lowcountry Wellness Center, our team of doctors will provide a complete review of your medical history as well as a comprehensive physical assessment. This will allow the doctors to create a treatment plan customized to your specific condition giving you the best chance for rapid and complete recovery. Call us at (843) 793-1353 to schedule your consultation appointment today!