Common Foot Ailments-Plantar Fasciitis

 

Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present. Heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation or, rarely, a cyst.

Because there are several potential causes, it is important to have heel pain properly diagnosed. Dr. Marc House, foot and ankle surgeon, is able to distinguish between all the possibilities and to determine the underlying source of your heel pain.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?Heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain.

Causes

The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to faulty structure of the foot. For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.

Wearing nonsupportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. This is particularly evident when one’s job requires long hours on the feet. Obesity and overuse may also contribute to plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms

The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are:

People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after they have been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking, the pain decreases because walking stretches the fascia. For some people, the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.

Diagnosis

To arrive at a diagnosis, Dr. Marc House will obtain your medical history and examine your foot. Throughout this process, the surgeon rules out all possible causes for your heel pain other than plantar fasciitis.

In addition, diagnostic imaging studies, such as x-rays or ultrasound, 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.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Treatment of plantar fasciitis begins with first-line strategies, which you can begin at home:

If you still have pain after several weeks, return to the office and discuss additional options with Dr. House, who may add one or more of these treatment approaches:

When Is Surgery Needed?

Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to nonsurgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of nonsurgical treatment, you continue to have heel pain, surgery will be considered. Dr. House will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial for you.

Long-Term Care

No matter what kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Therefore, you will need to continue with preventive measures. Wearing supportive shoes, stretching, and using custom orthotic devices are the mainstay of long-term treatment for plantar fasciitis.

Author
Kinetic Foot and Ankle Clinic Our office staff works with Dr. House to curate content that is relevant, helpful, and interesting to provide you with insights, updates, and facts about foot and ankle health. Dr. Marc House is a foot and ankle surgeon in Aurora, CO serving patients from all over the Denver area.

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