As podiatrists, we often hear the general complaint of “heel pain” or pain underneath the foot that is sharp when first standing and walking, but as time goes on the pain will dissipate. Usually, patients will complain that the pain is worse in the morning time. While some patients will even complain of “heel spurs” the odds are all of these symptoms are caused by an increasingly common problem, plantar fasciitis.
So exactly what is plantar fasciitis? To put it in the most basic terms, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the tendon beneath the foot that stretches from the base of the toes to the heel bone, connecting the two. The tendon typically becomes inflamed from either overuse or from wearing unsupportive shoes, or a combination of the two. Patients with high arches, flat feet, or overpronation (when the foot rolls excessively inward during walking) have a higher rate of plantar fasciitis. While inflammation is the cause of pain in the early stage of plantar fasciitis if the problem goes untreated for some time the body surrounds the tendon with scar tissue, which in turn leads to increased pain. The sooner you seek treatment for plantar fasciitis the easier and faster the recovery will be.
Your podiatrist has several different methods to help treat plantar fasciitis. Common conservative measures include stretching exercises, icing the area, supportive orthotic shoe inserts, rest, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to help reduce both pain as well as the inflammation. A medical brace called a night splint is often prescribed to help keep the tendon stretched during the night, decreasing the likelihood of pain in the morning. If these conservative methods of treatment prove ineffective then your podiatrist may recommend corticosteroid injections in the area of inflammation.
Several new technologies have emerged in recent years and have shown promising results in the treatment of heel pain. Platelet-rich plasma therapy, also known as PRP therapy, is a treatment where the blood is drawn and then put into a centrifuge, separating out the blood platelets. The platelet-rich plasma is mixed with an anesthetic and injected into the plantar fascia. This accelerates the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Sound wave therapy is used in a similar way, sound waves are pushed through the tendon causing micro-tears in the fascia, which leads to increased blood flow to the area, accelerating the body’s own natural healing process.
If you or a loved one is suffering from heel pain you should make an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible because plantar fasciitis is much easier to treat in its early stages. The podiatrists and staff at Ankle & Foot Associates are experienced in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and can help you get back to a healthy, pain-free life again. With 17 office locations in South Carolina and Southeast Georgia, there’s an office near you, we can help get you back on your feet again.
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