At Prisk Orthopaedics and Wellness, PC., we understand your pain. Specifically, we specialize in treating foot and ankle conditions. And while many of our patients struggle with dance or sports injuries, chances are you know from first- or secondhand experience that even daily life can lead to painful wear and tear.
One common example of this is plantar fasciitis - a painful foot condition that can not only make it difficult to walk, but which has the potential to affect other areas of the body if it’s not properly addressed. Fortunately, Dr. Prisk of Prisk Orthopaedics and Wellness, PC. has over 10 years of experience in treating numerous conditions of the Foot and Ankle, both surgically and non-surgically. As a result, he is more than qualified to answer your questions about this painful condition - and to help you address it.
What Exactly Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. Approximately 2 million patients are treated for this condition every year. It occurs when inflammation and degenerative scarring due to micro-tears affects this particular area of the foot. Specifically, this affects a thick band of tissue that runs across the sole, or plantar area, of the foot. This tissue, known as the plantar fascia, is a ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Normally, a healthy plantar fascia helps with shock absorption to support the arch of the foot. Sometimes, however, overuse of this ligament leads to excessive tension and stress, causing small tears. Should this happen repeatedly, chronic irritation sets in, creating the daily pain we recognize as plantar fasciitis.
Normally, we would rest the painful ligament until it’s fully recovered. In the case of foot tissue, however, rest is much harder to obtain. So without proper intervention, patients with plantar fasciitis will aggravate their injury every time they stand and move around, further preventing a proper recovery.
What Are Common Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms?
Plantar fasciitis pain is one of the most distinct types of lower extremity pain. It’s most recognizable by the stabbing pain near the heel that affects people when they stand, especially first thing in the morning or on start-up from sitting. The pain is also likely to subside as you move, creating a cycle throughout the day where the plantar ligament tenses and stretches as you sit and stand.
Am I At Risk Of Developing Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis has the potential to affect anyone. However, it's most common in runners. Women, people who are overweight, and people who wear shoes with poor arch support also have a higher-than-normal risk of plantar fasciitis. And some people with flat feet, high arches, or a unique way of walking are also more prone to developing this issue.
What If I Just Try To Ignore And Power Through My Foot Pain?
In a word, don’t! Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in worsening, chronic heel pain that hinders your regular activities more and more. And changing the way you walk to minimize plantar fasciitis pain can even lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems.
So What Should I Do About My Foot Pain?
If you experience pain that could be caused by plantar fasciitis, it’s best to see a foot and ankle specialist like me. We can confirm the diagnosis through a discussion of your symptoms and medical history, as well as a physical examination. Usually, imaging testing is not needed to confirm a diagnosis but we will rule out other problems that can mimic plantar fasciitis with x-rays or more advanced imaging like MRI or CT. Common mimickers are:
- Stress fractures
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Nerve irritation at the ankle or back
What Is The Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis?
The good news is that many patients find plantar fasciitis relief through non-invasive treatments. Plantar fasciitis often responds well to nonoperative treatments and lifestyle adjustments, which include resting, icing the painful area, and plantar fasciitis focused stretching exercises as we can instruct. The stretches will help stretch the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. In many cases, people see improvements within several months.
Additional conservative methods include using medications, Extracorporeal Shock-Wave Therapy, and platelet-rich plasma injections. You’ll likely be told to replace your current shoes with new ones featuring a low to moderate heel, good arch support, and shock absorbency. Your sports running shoes will need cushioned soles to add support and reduce the irritation of inflamed tissues from plantar fasciitis. And finally, custom orthotic shoe inserts can be used in your shoes to reduce the excess motion of the foot and decrease strain to the plantar fascia.
Other lifestyle adjustments that can help you manage and treat plantar fasciitis include maintaining a healthy weight and doing low-impact activities like swimming or bicycling (instead of walking or jogging).
While it often is not needed to treat plantar fasciitis, surgery can be performed if conservative treatments fail. The surgery will detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone, address tightness of the calf and possibly decompress the nerve to the heel. However, it's generally an option only when the pain is severe and all else fails. Complications can include a weakening of the arch in your foot if other problems like weight, activity modification, and shoe support aren’t regularly addressed.
Still have questions? We can help. At Prisk Orthopaedics and Wellness, PC., we focus on treating complex foot and ankle conditions, as well as managing sport and dance injuries. We guarantee that we will exhaust your conservative care options before ever suggesting surgery. Our comprehensive and focused care methods, along with the state-of-the-art-facilities ensures that each of our patients gets the best possible outcome.
To learn more about our care or schedule a consultation, contact us online or at 412-525-POW2 (7692).