Understanding Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

When it comes to taking care of yourself, your feet can often get overlooked. That is, until they become painful. Then, day-to-day things like going to the grocery store, taking a walk with a friend, or even going to work can be a new-found hassle. While there are numerous causes of foot pain, plantar fasciitis is the leading cause in adults, with 1 in 10 experiencing it at some point in their life. When your daily life becomes more about surviving than thriving because of plantar fasciitis, The Orthopaedic Center is ready to partner with you to get you back on your feet – from finding the cause of your pain to making a personalized treatment plan.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is like a rubber band that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting between the toes to the heel. It provides support to the arch of the foot, cushioning it with any weight-bearing activity. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated, the condition is known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis generally develops gradually over time, rather than all at once. Plantar fasciitis can linger for months if not treated, but the condition is treatable and even preventable with the right medical care from the highly trained Foot and Ankle Experts at The Orthopaedic Center.

While the cause of plantar fasciitis is not completely known, there are clear contributing factors. Plantar fasciitis is more common in women, those with low or high arches, and those over 40 years old. If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet a lot such as being a nurse or teacher, you may also be at higher risk.

While being obese or living an inactive lifestyle can also contribute to plantar fasciitis, jumping into a workout routine if you’ve been previously sedentary can also inflame the fascia.

Having weak muscles that surround your arches or tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles can also be a pain generator. While you may think the foot is the only area that could have mechanical problems because that’s where you’re feeling the plantar fasciitis-related pain, the bottom of the calf and the Achilles tendon connect to the heel, meaning a larger area of your lower body could be contributing to how you feel.

While numerous factors could contribute to pain, you need to find the root cause for you. It’s important to be diagnosed by a board-certified professional in the field as plantar fasciitis can also mimic other conditions, such as stress fractures or tarsal tunnel syndrome, and even certain autoimmune disorders.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The mainstay of plantar fasciitis symptoms is pain in your heels or arches of your feet, often described as a burning or stabbing-like sensation. You may particularly notice this pain first thing in the morning when getting out of bed, or when getting back on your feet after sitting for a while. But, depending on how progressed the plantar fasciitis is, movement may actually alleviate symptoms.

You may also notice your heels swelling more than usual, or your Achilles tendon being tighter or harder to stretch out.

Treatment Options

The good news is that if you have plantar fasciitis, there are numerous treatment options available. First, you could try getting fitted for shoes with proper arch support. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (“RICE” for short) could also help. Try freezing a water bottle and rolling it under your foot or stretching your lower body, particularly through your calves. Be sure to hold the stretch for long enough (at least 30 seconds) and repeat often (three times daily).

Orthotics, splints, or physical therapy (PT) may also be recommended. No need to go elsewhere for PT – the physical therapists at The Orthopaedic Center work alongside our physicians to create a streamlined treatment plan you’ve likely never experienced before in orthopaedic care.

Other medical treatments could include corticosteroids or anti-inflammatories as prescribed by our physicians. If these options do not improve your symptoms, surgery can be performed to release tension that’s built up over the fascia. The physicians at The Orthopaedic Center are well-versed in rigorous plantar facial and gastrocnemius stretching programs for non-operative treatment of plantar fasciitis as well as outpatient procedures for plantar fasciitis relief.

The Orthopaedic Center: Making Plantar Fasciitis a Thing of the Past

Our world-class Foot and Ankle physicians at The Orthopaedic Center are experts in the management of numerous painful foot and ankle conditions, including the ever-common plantar fasciitis. If you’re interested in finding relief from plantar fasciitis, please click here to request an appointment today.