Foot- Plantar Fachitis – Heel Pain

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel, reportedly affecting up to two million patients every year. With the right treatment, the pain can be dealt with and patients can get back on their feet.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the ligament that supports the arch of the foot becomes irritated and inflamed. This ligament connects the heel to the front of the foot and supports the arch and is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains placed on the foot.  When too much pressure causes damage or tears the tissues the body’s first response is inflammation, which results in the heel pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis.

Some factors that are known to cause this condition include;

  • Tighter calf muscles that make it difficult to flex the foot
  • Obesity
  • Very high arch
  • Repetitive impact activity (running/sports)
  • New or increased activity

Plantar fasciitis pain can last for months. The pain can make normal daily activities unbearable and put even modest exercise routines on hold. Heel pain can have many origins, plantar fasciitis being only one, but if plantar fasciitis is the cause of heel peel, a treatment plan can help speed up recovery. The vast majority of patients with plantar fasciitis improve within just 10 months of starting simple treatment methods including:

Rest. Decreasing or even stopping the activities that make pain worse is the first step in reducing the pain. This can include athletic activities that cause feet to pound on hard surfaces such as running or step aerobics.

Ice. Rolling the affected foot over a cold-water bottle or ice for 20 minutes is helpful. This treatment can be done 3 to 4 times a day.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen reduce pain and inflammation. Using this medication should be supervised by a primary care doctor when treatment lasts longer than one month.

Exercise. Plantar fasciitis is aggravated by tight muscles in the feet and calves. Stretching the calves and plantar fascia is the most effective way to relieve the pain that comes with this condition.

A daily routine of plantar fasciitis stretches, supportive shoes and other treatments will help patients heal faster. The best way to start recovery is by working with a physical therapist to find which treatments are a fit for the patient’s lifestyle and foot health. If there is no relief after 12 months of aggressive non-surgical treatments, then surgery may be an option.

Surgical options

Gastrocnemius recession. This is a surgical lengthening of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles. Because tight calf muscles place increased stress on the plantar fascia, this procedure is useful for patients who still have difficulty flexing their feet, despite a year of calf stretches.

Plantar fascia release. Patients who have a normal range of ankle motion and continued heel pain may be a candidate for a partial release procedure. During surgery, the plantar fascia ligament is partially cut to relieve tension in the tissue. This is a good time to remove bone spurs as well.

SRO’s Foot and Ankle Program is your first choice treatment program, caring for the foot and ankle no matter how common or complex. We provide a comprehensive array of treatment alternatives covering nonsurgical as well as surgical methods to overcome a patient’s pain and lost function. Take that first step towards better foot and ankle health and give us a call today at (707) 546-1922 or Request An Appointment now.