Plantar fasciitis is a common but painful condition affecting the feet. Below are answers to some of the most common questions patients ask about this condition.
1. What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain that usually develops when the plantar fascia is inflamed. The plantar fascia is the thick strip of tissue running from the bone in the heel to the toes.
2. What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Most people with plantar fasciitis experience a stabbing pain in the foot. This pain is usually at its worst early in the morning when you begin to walk after getting out of bed. In most cases, the pain will improve as you continue to move around throughout the day. If you sit or stand for a long period of time, the pain may return. The pain from plantar fasciitis may also appear after you exercise.
3. What causes plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia. Although anyone can develop this condition, it is more common among people who are older or engage in certain types of exercise. Obesity may also raise the risk of plantar fasciitis. Likewise, if you have an occupation that keeps you on your feet frequently, you may be more likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
4. What treatments are available for plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can be treated with medication, therapy and surgery. Medications used to treat this condition include pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. Therapies available for patients with plantar fasciitis include orthotics, night splints and physical therapy. All of these therapies aim to relieve the stress on the plantar fascia and/or bring down inflammation.
More invasive procedures are recommended to patients with plantar fasciitis only in severe cases that don't respond to less intensive treatments. Surgeons may recommend steroid injections to reduce inflammation, as well as shock wave therapy to stimulate tissue healing. A surgical procedure in which the surgeon detaches the plantar fascia from the heel bone may be used to alleviate pain in extreme cases that cannot be treated using any other method.
5. Will plantar fasciitis disappear without treatment?
Every patient is different. In some patients, the symptoms of plantar fasciitis may disappear on their own, especially if the factors that were contributing to plantar fasciitis go away. For example, if someone who is obese loses weight, they may be less likely to deal with symptoms of plantar fasciitis in the future. However, for other people, treatment will be necessary.
6. Can plantar fasciitis cause complications?
If you don't get the treatment you need for plantar fasciitis, you may not be able to perform your usual activities. If you change the way you walk or stand to alleviate the symptoms of this condition, you may also deal with other complications, such as back or hip problems.