The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

10 Things You Need To Know About Plantar Fasciitis

Posted by on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

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Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions we treat at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC. The typical plantar fasciitis patient is between the ages of 40 and 60, with a fairly active lifestyle. Long distance runners, ballet dancers, aerobics instructors, factory workers, teachers, and mail carriers are especially prone to developing this type of foot pain. Many people with heel pain are also overweight or have some type of structural anomaly — flat feet, high arches, tight calf muscles, or a tight Achilles tendon. Here are 10 facts about plantar fasciitis foot pain that can help you diagnose, understand, and hopefully combat this common condition.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is defined as “heel pain,” but the term is a bit of a misnomer because most sufferers truly feel it on the bottom of the foot, up through the arch. It strikes as a sharp, shooting, stabbing pain that is most intense with the first steps of the day and after prolonged periods of sitting. At the root, it’s a disorder of the plantar fascia ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes.

10 Things You Need To Know About Plantar Fasciitis:

1. Our understanding of plantar fasciitis is changing. Originally medical professionals thought the pain was caused by inflammation. However, newer research shows that structural degeneration following overuse and micro-tearing may be more to blame. Under the microscope, we see disorganized collagen fibers, calcium deposits in the connective tissue, and weakened tissue.

2. It’s surprisingly common. By best estimates, one in 10 Americans will suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point during their lifetime. It strikes people at both ends of the spectrum — the extremely active, and the very sedentary.

3. The plantar fascia can rupture. In the worst cases, there is a tearing of the ligament. Typical signs of this occurrence include: a clicking or snapping sound, significant swelling, and acute pain in the sole of the foot.

4. Lifestyle matters. Obesity is observed in 70 percent of plantar fasciitis sufferers. Wearing worn-out shoes is seen in nearly all patients.

5. Clinical exams can usually diagnose it. X-rays and MRIs are rarely needed. Usually a NY foot doctor will feel for tenderness along the inner part of the heel bone, check your dorsiflexion, and ask you a few questions about your symptoms and medical history.

6. Half of plantar fasciitis cases involve a heel spur. Researchers no longer believe that the heel spur itself causes pain. Most people with heel spurs do not know they have them and suffer no adverse symptoms. Surgical removal of a heel spur is only marginally successful. There is still much to learn about the significance of heel spurs in plantar fasciitis cases.

7. About 90 percent of plantar fasciitis cases will improve within six months with conservative measures. Rest, ice, calf stretches, aspirin or ibuprofen, and weight reduction are good first steps. Here at the office, we offer next-level care with Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy for people who have found no relief after three months of at-home treatment.

8. Think twice before requesting an injection. You may have heard people say that a corticosteroid injection “immediately relieved” their pain. This used to be a mainstay of acute pain relief, but studies fail to show effective pain management after three months. Furthermore, these injections carry the risk of plantar fascia rupture, fat pad atrophy, and nerve or muscle injury.

9. There are products you can buy. Night splints are a popular option for people who dread those first few steps in the morning. A night splint holds the foot in a neutral position to stretch out the calf and plantar fascia during sleep. Most people will see a decrease in pain within three months of use, even with foot pain that has persisted for more than six months. We have seen great results fitting patients with custom orthotic shoe inserts as well.

10. Surgery is on the table for the most severe cases. Plantar fasciitis surgery is not done often, but there are minimally invasive and endoscopic approaches to treatment. A success rate of 87 percent was observed in one study of over 1,000 plantar fasciotomies. Releasing the lateral plantar nerve branch is sometimes done in conjunction with the surgical repair of damaged tissue. Following surgery, most patients are back on their feet — with little pain, in normal shoes again — within a week.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment In NYC

When at-home care fails to resolve your discomfort, the best place to turn is a NYC podiatrist. Our certified professionals are trained in the latest approaches and technologies to relieve acute pain as quickly as possible. We look for the underlying cause of your plantar pain and seek to prevent recurring issues. For your convenience, you may book with us in Manhattan or Westchester via this form online.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.