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Plantar Fasciitis Q & A

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition, causing foot pain for more than 3 million people nationwide. Pain from plantar fasciitis occurs primarily in the heel of the foot and is described as a stabbing pain that usually occurs first thing in the morning. While the morning is the most common time to feel heel pain from plantar fasciitis, it can occur at any time of day, especially after extended periods of rest.

What is the Plantar Fascia?

Plantar fasciitis pain is caused by inflammation in the plantar fascia, a ligament (band of tissue) that connects your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia runs along the bottom of your foot, supporting your foot through the arch. This ligament is vital for proper support and strength in the foot. The plantar fascia provides stability when walking or running and absorbs shock when running or standing for long periods.

Plantar Fasciitis

Over time running, sports, walking, and life takes a toll on the plantar fascia. Some activities like running and certain sports can put more stress and strain on the plantar fascia, causing small tears to develop in the ligament and resulting in irritation, inflammation, and swelling. While it is more common for runners to develop plantar fasciitis, the condition is common among middle-aged and older adults. Even younger adults who engage in strenuous activities may experience symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is most commonly diagnosed due to the pain experienced by the patient. The irritated and inflamed plantar fascia hurts when first walking in the mornings or after sitting for extended periods. The pain is described as stabbing pain near the heel, as the irritated plantar fascia tries to stretch when the patient places weight on the foot. If this pain doesn’t subside after several days, an examination is necessary to diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment.

Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis

While plantar fasciitis is common among older adults, several risk factors may contribute to the condition or indicate make a person more likely to develop plantar fasciitis earlier in life.

  • Age – The most common time in life for developing plantar fasciitis is between the ages of 40 and 60. As a person ages, ligaments sometimes lose some of their flexibility, making them more prone to injuries, including plantar fasciitis.
  • Pronation – When a person rolls their feet inward when walking, it is referred to as pronation. Excessive pronation can contribute to increased stress on the plantar fascia, resulting in plantar fasciitis.
  • High Arches – High arches may have less flexibility, making it tougher for the plantar fascia to absorb the normal wear and tear of everyday life.
  • Flat Feet – Flat feet can cause problems with a person’s walking or running mechanics, placing unusual strain on the plantar fascia and increasing the chances of developing plantar fasciitis.
  • Excess Weight – Carrying excess weight places additional strain on the feet and is a common factor among people suffering from plantar fasciitis.
  • Tight Calves – Tight calf muscles, especially when engaging in running or sports activities can interfere with foot mechanics and place unusual strain on the plantar fascia. Tight calf muscles are an especially contributing factor to plantar fasciitis among runners.
  • Tight Achilles Tendon – A tight or injured Achilles tendon can interfere with foot mechanics and strain the plantar fascia, causing irritation and injury. Maintaining good flexibility in muscles and tendons is especially important among runners and athletes to avoid injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
  • Poorly Fitting Shoes – Shoes that don’t fit well or fail to provide enough support can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
  • Certain Occupations – Some occupations that require a person to remain on their feet all day can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis Among Runners

Runners experience a higher than normal rate of plantar fasciitis, probably due to the stress and strain that running places on the plantar fascia. According to Runner’s World, an online running magazine, plantar fasciitis often occurs in runners after a dramatic increase in mileage or due to inappropriate running shoes. In addition to the normal symptoms of plantar fasciitis, which include pain in the heel first thing in the morning and after long periods of sitting, runners may also experience pain in the heel during push-off.

Preventing Plantar Fasciitis in Runners

Runners need to take extra care to avoid injury. Proper stretching and strengthening of the surrounding muscles and tendons can help prevent plantar fasciitis. Tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons can increase the chances of developing a plantar fascia injury. Dramatic increases in training, including increased mileage or suddenly increasing speed or hills, can result in plantar fascia injuries in runners.

Treating Plantar Fasciitis in Runners

Because plantar fasciitis pain is often most painful just after rest and gets better with motion, many runners tend to ignore the pain and continue with their running routine. However, failing to address the plantar fasciitis can cause it to worsen and increase the time it takes for the fascia to heal.

The longer a person has plantar fasciitis, the longer it can take to heal. Once the plantar fascia is chronically inflamed, healing can take a very long time, making it important for anyone, but especially runners, to treat plantar fasciitis early and allow the fascia time to heal.

Runner’s World recommends using ice water or a frozen water bottle to reduce the inflammation in the fascia. Massaging the foot with a golf ball on the floor, rolling the ball with the bottom of the foot, can also help relieve pain and aid in healing.

If pain persists for more than three weeks, seek the help of a medical professional specializing in foot care. Dr. Kleis is an expert in foot care and experienced in treating plantar fasciitis, both in runners and in the general population. He will perform a thorough examination, diagnose the problem, and design a treatment program specifically designed to fit your situation.

Plantar Fasciitis FAQs

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot, from your heel to your toes. Irritation or inflammation of this ligament is called plantar fasciitis.

This podiatric condition may occur with or without a heel spur, a bony growth on the bottom of the heel. Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are common sources of heel pain.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis symptoms vary from person to person. Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Pain in the heel
  • Pain in the arch of the foot
  • Swelling on the heel

Pain may be most intense when you first get out of bed in the morning or any other time you stand up after an extended period of rest. You may notice a decrease in pain as the tissue warms up from the activity.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis occurs when you strain the plantar fascia ligament beyond its limit. This strain may result from variations in foot structure, such as overly flat or high-arched feet. Other causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Age – The most common time in life for developing plantar fasciitis is between the ages of 40 and 60. As a person ages, ligaments sometimes lose some of their flexibility, making them more prone to injuries, including plantar fasciitis.
  • Pronation – When a person rolls their feet inward when walking, it is referred to as pronation. Excessive pronation can contribute to increased stress on the plantar fascia, resulting in plantar fasciitis.
  • High Arches – High arches may have less flexibility, making it tougher for the plantar fascia to absorb the normal wear and tear of everyday life.
  • Flat Feet – Flat feet can cause problems with a person’s walking or running mechanics, placing unusual strain on the plantar fascia and increasing the chances of developing plantar fasciitis.
  • Excess Weight – Carrying excess weight places additional strain on the feet and is a common factor among people suffering from plantar fasciitis.
  • Tight Calves – Tight calf muscles, especially when engaging in running or sports activities can interfere with foot mechanics and place unusual strain on the plantar fascia. Tight calf muscles are an especially contributing factor to plantar fasciitis among runners.
  • Tight Achilles Tendon – A tight or injured Achilles tendon can interfere with foot mechanics and strain the plantar fascia, causing irritation and injury. Maintaining good flexibility in muscles and tendons is especially important among runners and athletes to avoid injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
  • Poorly Fitting Shoes – Shoes that don’t fit well or fail to provide enough support can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
  • Certain Occupations – Some occupations that require a person to remain on their feet all day can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.

Dr. Kleis carefully considers the cause of your plantar fasciitis to create a personalized treatment plan to improve your condition.

How do you diagnose and treat plantar fasciitis?

As the first part of your diagnosis, Dr. Kleis performs a thorough physical exam and review of your medical history. He may take an X-ray to check for heel spurs or rule out other possible sources of heel pain such as rheumatoid arthritis.

After the initial exam, he discusses the best treatment options for your particular condition. Depending on your case, plantar fasciitis treatment may include:

  • Laser or Shockwave Therapy - Dr. Kleis is one of the only doctors in southern CA to offer both shockwave or acoustic wave treatment as well as low-level laser therapy for plantar fasciitis. These treatments are what many professional sports teams use for their elite athletes. You deserve the same level of treatment.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication - Oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medication
  • A Change in Shoewear - Switching to shoes that fit properly
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy or stretching exercises
  • Taping - Taping the foot to reduce stress
  • Custom Orthotics - Orthotic devices such as shoe inserts

Dr. Kleis examines every option and surgery is rarely needed but some cases of plantar fasciitis require advanced therapies. If your condition is severe or doesn’t respond to simple treatment, he may recommend shock wave therapy. This noninvasive treatment uses high energy acoustic waves to promote tissue healing. Dr. Kleis is one of the only doctors in southern CA to offer both shockwave or acoustic wave treatment as well as low-level laser therapy for plantar fasciitis. These treatments are what many professional sports teams use for their elite athletes. You deserve the same level of treatment.

To find relief from heel pain, call (714) 760-4944 or book an appointment online today.

 

 

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