Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of foot pain, one that becomes a lot more common as we get older. The plantar fascia is a strong band of fibrous tissue that extends along the bottom of your foot. This band provides important support for your arch, and it also helps your foot stay flexible. When the plantar fascia is healthy and strong, you can walk, run, jump, and stand without even being aware of the integral role it’s playing. But once it gets injured, inflamed, or irritated, it definitely makes its presence well known.
At Scheffel Foot Center, Dr. Scheffel offers an array of treatment options for plantar fasciitis so men and women can resolve painful symptoms, and most of the time, no surgery is required. It is important to know that there are many other causes of heel pain, some of which include Baxter’s nerve entrapment, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and stress fracture. It is important that you have your heel pain evaluated before undergoing treatment.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fibers of the plantar fascia become irritated and strained. Often, tiny tears form in the tissue, resulting in inflammation and tenderness. Plantar fasciitis becomes more common with age because age-related changes make the tissue less flexible, which in turn means it’s more prone to injury. Other causes include:
- exercises, like running, that cause repetitive impacts to the bottom of the foot
- standing for long hours on a regular basis
- carrying heavy loads on a regular basis
- low or weak arches or other structural problems of the foot
- gait abnormalities
Unlike an acute injury like a sprain or fracture that happens quickly, plantar fasciitis develops over time, as excess strain takes a toll on the fibers.
Plantar fasciitis treatment: Nonsurgical options
The good news is, nearly all cases of plantar fasciitis resolve without surgery. Depending on your symptoms, your anatomy, your health history, and your goals, Dr. Scheffel might recommend treatments like:
- medicine to decrease pain and inflammation
- stretching exercises or physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility in the plantar fascia
- taping or splinting to provide support to the area while it heals
- custom orthotics to relieve excess strain on the plantar fascia
- corticosteroid injections to help relieve severe inflammation
- soundwave therapy to reduce pain and speed healing
Sometimes, he'll recommend a combination of treatments, or he may change treatment as your condition improves. Plus, he can also help you learn techniques to avoid plantar fascia pain in the future.
When surgery makes sense
In nearly all cases, plantar fasciitis will resolve using nonsurgical methods. It just might take some time for the tissues to heal. But in a few cases, these methods may not be effective for providing long-term symptom relief. When that’s the case, surgery may be performed to relieve the excess strain on the plantar fascia.
Plantar fascia surgery is also called plantar fascia release. During the procedure, an incision is made into the plantar fascia to “relax” the tension that’s causing pain. Typically, surgery is reserved for people who experience significant disability from their pain or when pain interferes with your ability to work. Surgery also might be performed to remove a heel spur or to smooth other abnormalities in the heel bone.
While surgery may be helpful in some patients, the American Academy of Family Physicians reports the procedure is successful about 70 percent to 90 percent of the time. For these reasons, and because nonsurgical treatments are so successful in most patients, surgery is only considered as a last option, and only once more conservative treatments have been attempted for at least six months.
Find relief for your chronic foot pain
The bottom line: At Scheffel Foot Center, Dr. Scheffel uses a variety of methods and treatments to help men and women conquer their plantar fasciitis pain without resorting to invasive surgery. If you're having foot or heel pain, don't postpone your care. Book an appointment online today.