If your first few steps out of bed in the morning cause severe pain in the heel of your foot, you may have plantar fasciitis. Did you know, plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel with approximately 2 million patients treated for this condition annually.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia (a long, thin ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot) becomes inflamed and irritated. It connects the heel to the front of your foot and supports the arch of your foot.
The most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain near the heel on the bottom of the foot
- Pain with the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning, or after sitting for a long period of time. The pain generally subsides after a few minutes of walking
- Heightened pain after (not during) exercise or activity
Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching and rest is the best nonsurgical treatment for plantar fasciitis and can reduce the risk of recurrence. Your doctor may suggest a series of exercises that can you do at home to stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Applying ice to the sore area for 20 minutes three or four times a day can also provide relief of your symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
About 90 percent of people with plantar fasciitis improve significantly after two months of initial treatment. You may be advised to use shoes with shock-absorbing soles or fitted with an off-the-shelf shoe insert device like a rubber heel pad. Your foot may be taped into a specific position.
If your plantar fasciitis continues after a few months of conservative treatment, your doctor may inject your heel with steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
Your doctor may consider surgery if nonsurgical treatment has not helped and heel pain is restricting your daily activities. One surgical option is plantar fascia release, which involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release tension and relieve inflammation.
Recovery from Plantar Fasciitis
Patients typically go home the same day of their surgery. You may be placed in a splint, boot or post-operative shoe. You may have restrictions on your weight-bearing after surgery. If you have sutures, they are generally able to be removed after two weeks, and normal weight bearing can resume.
If left untreated, plantar fasciitis may become a chronic condition. You may not be able to keep up your level of activity, and you may develop symptoms of foot, knee, hip and back problems because plantar fasciitis can change the way you walk. Your doctor at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine will assess the severity of the injury and determine the best course of action for treating the damaged tissue.