Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Pain)


Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament becomes irritated. It is the most common cause of heel pain.

The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel to the front of the foot, supporting the arch. Although the plantar fascia can handle a lot of stress, too much stress can damage the tissue or cause it to tear. This can result in heel pain and stiffness in the ligament.

Causes and Symptoms

Sometimes, plantar fasciitis develops without a specific, identifiable cause. However, there are some factors that can make you more likely to develop this condition, including tight calf muscles, obesity, very high arches, new or increased activity, and repetitive impact activities like running and sports.

Plantar fasciitis often causes pain at the bottom of the foot near the heel. The pain is usually worse just after getting out of bed in the morning, or after a long period of rest. After walking for a few minutes, the pain usually gets better or goes away. Pain may also increase after, but not during, physical activity.

Many patients with plantar fasciitis also have calcium deposits under the heel that create bony extensions called heel spurs. However, heel spurs are often painless and are not usually the cause of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can often be treated without needing to remove the heel spur.

Treatment

Most patients with plantar fasciitis find improvement after several months of nonsurgical treatment. However, there are surgical options available if plantar fasciitis pain does not subside with conservative treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Patients with plantar fasciitis are generally advised to avoid activities that make pain worse. This may include high-impact activities like running or aerobics. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen may be recommended to help with pain and inflammation. Ice can also help with pain and inflammation. Some patients find it helpful to roll the foot over a cold water bottle for 20 minutes at a time, 3-4 times per day. Cortisone injections may also be recommended to reduce inflammation and pain.

Because plantar fasciitis can be caused or made worse by tight muscles, stretching is essential in relieving pain. Your doctor may recommend stretches for both the calf muscle and the plantar fascia. You may work with a physical therapist to help you with the stretches.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be an option if pain does not respond to conservative treatment. Surgery for plantar fasciitis is only considered after several months to a year of nonsurgical treatment. There are two surgical options available for plantar fasciitis.

During a gastrocnemius recession, one of the two muscles that make up the calf is lengthened. This procedure can be done as a traditional, open procedure, or with an endoscope, which allows for a smaller incision. This procedure can increase ankle motion and may be helpful for patients whose plantar fasciitis persists due to tight calf muscles.

During a plantar fascia release, the surgeon partially cuts the plantar fascia ligament to relieve tension. Bone spurs may be removed during this procedure, as well. This procedure may be recommended if a patient has good range of motion in the ankle, but plantar fasciitis persists.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment in Beaumont, TX

At Beaumont Bone and Joint Institute, we offer a wide variety of treatment options for foot and ankle conditions, including plantar fasciitis. To learn more about treatment options for heel pain, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, please contact our Beaumont office at (409) 838-0346 or our Port Arthur office at (409) 729-5633.