Plantar fasciitis is the pain caused by degenerative irritation at the insertion of the plantar fascia on the medial process of the calcaneal tuberosity. The pain may be substantial, resulting in the
alteration of daily activities. Various terms have been used to describe plantar fasciitis, including joggerâs heel, tennis heel, policemanâs heel, and even gonorrheal heel. Although a misnomer,
this condition is sometimes referred to as heel spurs by the general public.
Plantar fasciitis occurs because of irritation to the thick ligamentous connective tissue that runs from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. This strong and tight tissue contributes to maintaining
the arch of the foot. It is also one of the major transmitters of weight across the foot as you walk or run. Therefore, the stress placed on the this tissue is tremendous.
The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn. The pain is often worse in the morning when
you take your first steps, after standing or sitting for awhile, when climbing stairs, after intense activity. The pain may develop slowly over time, or come on suddenly after intense activity.
To arrive at a diagnosis, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your medical history and examine your foot. Throughout this process the surgeon rules out all the possible causes for your heel pain
other than plantar fasciitis. In addition, diagnostic imaging studies such as x-rays or other imaging modalities may be used to distinguish the different types of heel pain. Sometimes heel spurs are
found in patients with plantar fasciitis, but these are rarely a source of pain. When they are present, the condition may be diagnosed as plantar fasciitis/heel spur syndrome.
Non Surgical Treatment
In many instances, plantar fasciitis can be treated with home care. Changing your physical activities, resting the foot, and applying ice to the area are common remedies. Taking over the counter
medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation that may have developed. An orthotic device placed in your shoes can also significantly help to reduce pain. In
addition, orthotics can also help promote healing to reverse plantar fasciitis. If pain from plantar fasciitis continues despite conservative treatments, you may need to visit a doctor or podiatrist.
It's important to seek medical advice before heel pain and damage becomes worse. If the condition is allowed to worsen, more serious or invasive forms of treatment may be required to stop pain. A
visit to a doctor may reveal other conditions affecting the foot as well, such as Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs, or other heel pain conditions. An x-ray may also be taken, which can reveal the
presence of a heel spur. In rare cases surgery may be required to release tension on the plantar fascia, or to remove a portion of a heel spur. But again, most heel pain conditions can be resolved
using conservative treatment.
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.