Plantar fasciitis is the most common heel pain for adults. It’s caused by overstretching or irritating the plantar fascia, which is a long, tough band of fibrous tissue that goes from your toes to your heel.
The plantar fascia connects to the heel bone and pain is felt directly under the heel. Most cases of plantar fasciitis are treatable without surgery, but if rest doesn’t help or heel pain keeps coming back, it’s time to see one of our excellent doctors.
At Comprehensive Foot & Ankle Centers, our doctors treat plantar fasciitis nearly every day and are exceptionally well qualified to identify the root causes of your pain and set you on a stable road to recovery.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common heel pain in adults that is caused by an injury to the plantar fascia. This is a long stretch of tough fibrous tissue; similar to a ligament, that goes across your arch from your toes to your heel. When the fascia becomes overstretched and irritated, you usually feel pain directly under your heel, where the fascia connects to the heel bone.
When the plantar fascia becomes overloaded and micro-tears form in the tissue, it is called plantar fasciitis. This can happen due to repetitive stress from activities such as running, dancing, or plyometrics. It can also occur due to sudden increases in mileage or intensity, or from wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support.
Plantar fasciitis is treated differently than other types of heel pain. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Allowing your plantar fascia to rest is what will help it recover. If resting does not help, if the pain is too severe, or if the plantar fascia is torn too much, surgery might be needed. Either way, getting evaluated by one of our heel pain specialists will allow you to get the treatment you need.
How Do I Know if I Have Plantar Fasciitis?
If you have pain in your heel that is worse in the morning or after sitting for a long period of time, you likely have plantar fasciitis. The pain is usually a stabbing or burning sensation that gets worse with activity.
Additional symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Heel pain that gradually gets worse.
- Heel pain that is worse after activity.
- Sharp or burning heel pain.
- Swelling or tenderness in the heel.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to contact our office immediately. Our team will be able to confirm the diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Several factors can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. These include:
- Repetitive stress from high-impact activities like running
- Sudden increases in mileage or intensity
- Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support.
- Tightening of the Achilles tendon
- Flat feet or high arches
While anyone can develop plantar fasciitis, it is more common in people who have jobs that require them to stand on hard surfaces for long periods. Athletes, especially those who run and do a lot of jumping, are also prone to the condition.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
There are plenty of treatment options available. But a personalized plan depending on where exactly you are feeling the pain, how severe your pain is, your medical history, and other considerations would be the best choice.
Plantar fasciitis requires self-limiting to be treated without invasive therapy in 95% of cases. Conservative care can easily heal your heel. Here’s what a typical plan would be like:
Initially, you will be advised of some home remedies which include, applying ice to the affected area, and using braces or inflammatory drugs.
You will be counseled to perform specific therapeutic exercises that will stretch your foot arch & Achilles tendon, providing stability to your heel.
Most patients are advised to rest because prolonged high-pressure activity can cause more damage. So, you’ll be taking a rest from exercising, walking, or standing for long hours. In some cases, with severe symptoms, we also recommend complete rest with a short cast allowing it room to heal.
Custom orthotics are prescribed for providing full foot support with some cushion as well. These devices help with relieving your pain while walking or standing. This is an efficient solution as the pressure is distributed evenly on your plantar fascia (the foot’s arch), restricting pain & any further damage.
If the pain is unbearable and prolonged, we can inject the damaged section directly with a corticosteroid, easing the pain.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (EPAT)
Shockwave therapy is a great option if the pain continues. In this, sound waves are introduced as a stimulus to the affected area to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and boost blood flow to the injury.
Surgery (for Rare, Serious Cases)
We do a surgical procedure in rare cases where the pain is highly severe and increasing. But it’s very infrequent. In 95% of the cases, surgery is not needed and rest plus other treatments are enough to ease the pain and heal the affected area.
How Long Does Plantar Fasciitis Last?
Once you know that plantar fasciitis is causing your heel or arch pain, it’s natural to wonder when it’s going to feel better. You may have less pain in a few weeks with at-home treatment. Or your symptoms could take a year to resolve.
Why such a large range? Your plantar fasciitis is not exactly the same as anyone else’s. Several factors affect how long it may last.
The Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
If you’re unable to rest your feet or stop irritating the area, it may take longer for the injury to heal. Causes that are difficult or take time to address include:
- Working long hours on your feet
- Structural issues like flat feet or high arches
Being unable to eliminate the cause, even for a little while, may add some time to your recovery. You can help overcome this challenge by making some changes. Wear supportive shoes, lose weight, and talk with us about custom orthotics.
Severity and Treatment
The sooner you see your doctor about foot pain, the sooner treatment can begin. Most plantar fasciitis develops over time. The quicker it’s treated the less the injury will progress.
Mild plantar fasciitis may respond to home treatments including rest, ice, and exercises. You could see a major improvement in a month or two.
A more severe injury may require physical therapy, custom orthotics, corticosteroid injections, or extracorporeal shock wave therapy. The severity of the injury and the complexity of the treatment path you’re on will impact your recovery time.
Your treatment path is based on your lifestyle, age, health, and injury. How they combine affects how long your plantar fasciitis will last. With treatment, you should have less pain within weeks and most people fully recover within a year.
We want you back on your pain-free feet as quickly as possible. Contact our offices today for help with your heel pain!
Relieve Plantar Fasciitis Pain & Stop Further Damage with Proper Treatment
If plantar fasciitis is not correctly treated, it can permanently damage your heel, which will further worsen the pain.
Nip this in the bud once and for all before it gets out of hand!
Give us a call at (816) 455-1155 or find out our online contact form to schedule your appointment. We have six conveniently located clinics in Missouri and Kansas around the Kansas City metro area. Contact us today and let us help you be rid of heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis!