Is Plantar Fasciitis the New Black?
The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies beneath the skin on the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel to the front of the foot and supports the arch. The plantar fascia absorbs the high stresses placed on feet. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this strong band of tissue becomes irritated and inflamed, which results in heel pain and stiffness. Is it the new black? “Heel pain is epidemic,” says Michael King, the past president of the American Podiatric Medical Assn. Approximately 2 million patients are treated for plantar fasciitis every year.
The following factors may make people more prone to plantar fasciitis:
- Tighter calf muscles that make it difficult to flex the foot
- Very high arch
- Repetitive impact activity (running/sports)
- New or increased activity
If suffering from plantar fasciitis, the best recommendation is to decrease or stop activities that increase pain. Rolling the foot over a cold water bottle for 20 minutes three times a day, stretching calves and plantar fascia, supportive shoes and orthotics, and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may reduce pain and inflammation. Imaging tests are necessary to confirm that the heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis and not another problem such as fractures or arthritis. If plantar fasciitis is the diagnosis, the physician may recommend a cortisone injection into the plantar fascia to reduce inflammation and pain.
Surgery is a consideration after months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment. Because tight calf muscles increase stress on the plantar fascia, the surgical lengthening of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles is a procedure for patients who have difficulty flexing their feet. If a patient has a normal range of ankle motion and continued heel pain, a release procedure may be recommended to partially cut the plantar fascia ligament to relieve tension in the tissue. The specialists at Direct Orthopedic Care will examine, X-ray, diagnose, and treat plantar fasciitis with nonsurgical recommendations, injections and surgery if necessary.
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