What is Plantar Fasciitis?

At Advanced Orthopedics & Hand Surgery, we provide comprehensive care that focuses on the fastest possible recuperation for each patient. Plantar fasciitis is one of the common conditions that we treat but that relatively few people know of. This ankle and foot disorder is frequently identified as the underlying cause of unexplained heel pain. It involves the flat band of ligament tissue that spans from the heel bone to the toes (the plantar fascia), substantially covering the sole. This ligament is the part of the foot that supports the arch. Plantar fasciitis describes the swelling and pain caused by micro-tears and strain on this fascia.

Recognizing Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis provides clues that this ligament has become inflamed due to injury. When we say injury, we don’t mean that you stepped on something or oddly twisted your foot. In many cases, plantar fasciitis results from poor arch support (flip-flops or bare feet), over-pronation of the foot, or simple overload related to weight or excessive standing or walking. A change in lifestyle from sedentary to active may also lead to ligament strain and heel pain.

Some of the clues that plantar fasciitis has developed include pain directly in front of the heel, just behind the arch. Pain may also localize in the central-medial arch. Discomfort is triggered by weight-bearing movement, especially after rest. For example, standing up in the morning may feel excruciating to the foot. The more the body acclimates to movement during the day, the less intense pain may feel. Usually, pain decreases to a dull ache that lingers throughout the day.

How Plantar Fasciitis is Treated

A thorough examination and consultation are necessary to diagnose plantar fasciitis accurately. During our consultation, we seek details that alert us to an injury, such as recent trauma or changes in lifestyle habits. An x-ray may also be ordered to confirm the proper diagnosis.

Initial treatment for plantar fasciitis may include wearing a night splint, which is a type of sock that stretches the plantar fascia when you sleep. Oral anti-inflammatory medication is also typically recommended to reduce the irritation within the ligament. If the pain is severe, a steroid injection may be performed. In addition to splinting and medication, it is necessary to exercise and stretch the plantar fascia to break up the tightness that is causing pain. This protocol may need to be maintained for two to four weeks. According to statistics, approximately 80% of patients reach full resolution using this conservative method of treatment.

Heel pain does not always indicate plantar fasciitis. A comprehensive exam can be scheduled in one of our New Jersey offices by calling (973) 942-1315.

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