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Plantar Fasciitis: Common, Painful, Treatable

With the warm weather we are all trading in our boots for lighter and often less supportive shoes and sandals. With increased activity itʼs no wonder that every year in the spring and summer I see an increase in cases of plantar fasciitis.

 

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common ailments of the feet. It affects people of all ages, races, and activity levels. It is more common after a sudden weight gain, such as in pregnancy, a sudden increase in activity or a change in shoes. Hip and knee replacements can cause one leg to be longer than the other, leading to increased stress on one foot and heel pain.

 

The plantar fascia is a ligament that helps hold the arch in your foot up. It can get irritated and swollen, causing pain in the heel. The first line of treatment is to ice and stretch. It is important to do these consistently and to stretch with your knee extended. Icing and stretching combined with supportive shoes and rest is sometimes all that is needed to resolve the plantar fasciitis. If you have heel pain that is worsening or not improving, it may be time to seek professional help. Usually the longer the plantar fasciitis goes without treatment, the more difficult it will be to resolve.

 

I use a combination of oral medications and injections to treat plantar fasciitis. If the pain is not resolving physical therapy can be used as well. On occasion someone does not respond to any of these conservative treatments. In those cases, there are a couple surgical options. One option stimulates the plantar fascia to heal itself. Another option involves cutting the plantar fascia.

 

Physical therapy can also be an effective tool to help treat plantar fasciitis. Physical therapist can perform many modalities such as ultrasound, phonophoresis, and iontophoresis. These are used to help break up fibrotic tissue, reduce inflammation, and reduce pain.

 

Custom orthotics are important to help prevent plantar fasciitis from recurring. Certain foot types are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis and the orthotics are used to control the abnormal movements in the foot while walking that put extra stress on the plantar fascia. If you undergo the type of surgery that cuts the plantar fascia, custom orthotics are recommended to help hold the arch of the foot up so the remaining ligaments are not overly stressed.

 

Plantar fasciitis is a very painful condition that can prevent people from performing their normal day-to-day activities. The majority of people respond well to conservative treatment and never require surgical intervention. Often, a combination of the above treatments are needed to treat a persons pain and prevent it from coming back.

Author
Dr Katie Evans Dr Katie Evans writes a monthly column in the Hometown Focus. The articles cover a variety of issues concerning the foot and ankle. If you have any recommendations for future articles, email them to rangefootandankle@gmail.com.

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