Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Pain from plantar fasciitis is often most noticeable during the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning. The plantar fascia is
a thick band of tissue in the sole of the foot. Microtearing at the origin of the plantar fascia on the heel bone (calcaneus) can occur with repetitive loading. This microtearing leads to an
inflammatory response (healing response) which produces the pain. Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include excessive standing, increased body weight, increasing age, a change in activity level, and
a stiff calf muscle. Plantar fasciitis can be managed non-operatively in the vast majority of patients. The main components of an effective non-operative treatment program are: calf stretching with
the knee straight, plantar fascia stretching, activity modification (to avoid precipitating activities), and comfort shoe wear.
The plantar fascia can also become aggravated by repetitive activity. If you increase the number of times the heel hits the ground, that can cause plantar fasciitis, a number of people develop
problems when their feet are unaccustomed to hard tile or wood floors. Other risk factors for plantar fasciitis include obesity, an extra high or low foot arch, and activities like running.
Pain is the main symptom. This can be anywhere on the underside of your heel. However, commonly, one spot is found as the main source of pain. This is often about 4 cm forward from your heel, and may
be tender to touch. The pain is often worst when you take your first steps on getting up in the morning, or after long periods of rest where no weight is placed on your foot. Gentle exercise may ease
things a little as the day goes by, but a long walk or being on your feet for a long time often makes the pain worse. Resting your foot usually eases the pain. Sudden stretching of the sole of your
foot may make the pain worse, for example, walking up stairs or on tiptoes. You may limp because of pain. Some people have plantar fasciitis in both feet at the same time.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam to check for tenderness in your foot and the exact location of the pain to make sure that itâs not caused by a different foot problem. The doctor may ask
you to flex your foot while he or she pushes on the plantar fascia to see if the pain gets worse as you flex and better as you point your toe. Mild redness or swelling will also be noted. Your doctor
will evaluate the strength of your muscles and the health of your nerves by checking your reflexes, your muscle tone, your sense of touch and sight, your coordination, and your balance. X-rays or a
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be ordered to check that nothing else is causing your heel pain, such as a bone fracture.
Non Surgical Treatment
A number of conservative measures can help take stress off the plantar fascia and encourage healing, including Icing, Taping the arch and bottom of the foot, Stretching, especially the calf, Avoiding
walking with bare feet, especially on hard surfaces, Wearing orthotics or arch supports, Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. If these methods fail, we generally try one of two things, A
cortisone injection can help reduce swelling. Often a single injection will do the trick, but occasionally a second injection may be needed. Alternatively, we can try extracorporeal pulse activation
therapy, or EPAT. This method uses sound waves to penetrate to the plantar fascia and stimulate the bodyâs healing response. We typically do one treatment a week for three weeks, with complete
healing taking between nine to 12 weeks.
Surgery should be reserved for patients who have made every effort to fully participate in conservative treatments, but continue to have pain from plantar fasciitis. Patients should fit the following
criteria. Symptoms for at least 9 months of treatment. Participation in daily treatments (exercises, stretches, etc.). If you fit these criteria, then surgery may be an option in the treatment of
your plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately, surgery for treatment of plantar fasciitis is not as predictable as a surgeon might like. For example, surgeons can reliably predict that patients with severe
knee arthritis will do well after knee replacement surgery about 95% of the time. Those are very good results. Unfortunately, the same is not true of patients with plantar fasciitis.
Making sure your ankle, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles are flexible can help prevent plantar fasciitis. Stretch your plantar fascia in the morning before you get out of bed. Doing activities in
moderation can also help.