What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a medical condition which causes inflammation in the bottom ligament of foot. The inflammation extends to the heel bone causing pain when walking or running. Often patients complain the pain worsens in the morning when they first wake up (aka “first-step pain”). When moving the foot regularly during the day, the pain tends to dissipate. However, after resting, the pain returns.
Who Is at Risk?
Runners and athletes often suffer from plantar fasciitis. However, it can also be seen in individuals with an imperfect foot design or who are slightly overweight. Ligament tissues serve as shock absorbers but are prone to wear and tear. With time and use, the tissues break down and are less efficient.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain?
Plantar fasciitis can arise from a number of reasons. As previously mentioned, certain feet, like a flat foot or a high-arched foot, are prone to plantar fasciitis. Of course, a patient’s daily routine can also cause the condition. Athletes or runners, for example, can develop plantar fasciitis due to their rigorous exercise routines, sometimes causing stiffened Achilles tendons and calf muscles. Likewise, the condition is often inflamed by wearing poorly designed shoes, like those with an extremely soft sole or an improper arch system. Due to the various reasons for the condition, a foot surgeon must carry out a diagnosis through various techniques.
Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosis
Doctors typically examine all other possible causes of heel pain before diagnosing plantar fascia. They will assess the patient’s medical history and conduct various tests to understand the heel structure. Only after ruling out other conditions will the doctor diagnose the issue as plantar fascia.
Luckily, technology is making diagnosis easier. The two most popular technological advances include:
- Digital X-Ray technology: By analyzing the heel structure of a patient, a doctor can look for possible causes of heel spurs that are buried deep in the soft tissue. The x-ray also shows stress fractures in the weight bearing zone.
- Diagnostic ultrasound: By image mapping the foot from various angles, the doctor can calculate the thickness of plantar. The ultrasound can also help doctors identify scars or tears in the plantar fascia.
Do-It-Yourself Non-Surgical Treatments
To help relieve the pain, individuals can try the following at-home treatments:
- Stretching exercises: Stretch the calf muscle before walking every morning. Stretching exercises can also be conducted before bed.
- Wear good quality shoes: Avoid walking barefoot because it puts tension on the plantar fascia and strains calf muscles.
- Apply an ice pack: Use an ice pack two to three times a day to relieve inflammation in the heel.
There are a number of advanced non-surgical treatments including:
- Platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP therapy): This procedure infuses blood into the damaged region using an injection and local anesthesia. Increased blood circulation in the damaged tissue accelerates the healing process.
- Shock wave therapy: For those who do not respond well to traditional techniques, foot surgeons suggest shock wave therapy. This involves firing shock waves through the affected region of the foot, helping to stimulate the healing process.
In some cases, surgery will need to be used to treat the condition. Two of these produces include:
- Topaz technology: When plantar fascia has worsened due to degradation of connected tissues, the foot surgeon can remove damaged tissues by burning small holes in the skin of the affected region. The ligament will heal naturally and gradually.
- Tenex fast procedure: A small needle the size of a toothpick can be used to extract the degraded scar tissue from the tendons. The needle is inserted in the affected region under ultrasonic conditions. The energy generated by the ultrasound waves breaks down the scar tissue. The foot heals naturally, and gradually the heel pain dissipates.
Suffering from plantar fascia? Call us today (505) 814-6466 to schedule a consultation!