What is Plantar Fasciitis

By: Dr. Randall Contento  |

Posted in  SERVICES

What is Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common foot problem in the world.  Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation within the ligament on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel and the toes.  The inflammation is usually worse first thing in the morning when getting out of bed, or getting up from a seated position after 15 minutes of rest. The condition may appear to resolve after walking for a few minutes but may manifest as an aching and throbbing pain in the evening.  

What causes plantar fasciitis?

The root cause of plantar fasciitis is a result of excessive tightness of the calf muscles.  A normal foot will have 15° of dorsiflexion, or upward motion at the ankle while in a seated position with the knee straight. This motion is necessary to walk normally without tripping over our toes.
When the calf muscles are too tight, then too much tension within the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is unable to withstand the tension and its fibers will tear. This tearing causes pain and inflammation most often at its attachment on the heel.  Less commonly, plantar fasciitis can manifest in the central arch area of the foot.

Another cause for plantar fasciitis is excessive collapsing of the arch while standing. Those with flat feet are at higher risk for plantar fasciitis.  As the arch collapses, tension on the plantar fascia will increase, leading to the tearing of fibers.

What are common treatments for plantar fasciitis?

The number one treatment for plantar fasciitis is stretching exercises. These exercises address the tightness of the calf muscles. If the calf muscles are no longer tight, then there is less tension on the plantar fascia and the tearing and inflammation will resolve.  Another technique to stretch the calf muscles is to use a dorsal night splint while sleeping. This will stretch the calf muscles during rest and helps with compliance to stretching exercise regimens.

Arch supports are useful to resolve plantar fasciitis. They help decrease the collapsing of the arch and therefore reduce tension on the plantar fascia. Custom arch supports made by your Gaston Foot Specialist are most beneficial as they will match the contour of a person’s foot perfectly. Over-the-counter arch supports can also be helpful if they are firm and support the arch.

Other methods of treatment are aimed at resolving the inflammation of the plantar fascia. These include anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and deep heating techniques like ultrasound.

Most podiatrists will employ several treatment options to resolve plantar fasciitis.  If a patient fails conservative treatment for plantar fasciitis, a surgical option may be necessary. Surgical management of plantar fasciitis involves cutting two thirds of the plantar fascia to remove the excessive tension. When the tension is gone, the inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis quickly resolves.

The longer one suffers from plantar fasciitis, the longer it usually takes to resolve.  With multiple options for treatment and predictable results, there is no need to suffer. 

Contact Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists at 704-861-0425 to schedule an appointment today!

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054