One in 10 people will experience plantar fasciitis at some point during their lifetime. Primarily affecting people between the ages of 40 and 60, it’s an inflammation of a thick band of connective tissue supporting the arch of your foot. As a common source of chronic heel and foot pain, plantar fasciitis is a condition that may require further evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Attached at the base of the heel, plantar fascia tissues can become inflamed from excessive stress and strain. Repeated stress can also cause small tears in these tissues. Factors that may make you prone to experiencing plantar fasciitis include:
• Repetitive motions, as with running or jogging
• Excess weight
• Poor posture
• Wearing excessively high heels
• Poor-fitting shoes
• Heel spurts
Do You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
Pain associated with plantar fasciitis is often sharp and noticeable. Discomfort is often aggravated by movement and may come and go, depending on the degree of the inflammation. You may have plantar fasciitis if you experience:
• Radiating pain from the front of your heel to your toes
• Difficulty walking for long periods of time or climbing stairs
• Pain after periods of activity, but not during
• Heel pain felt during your first few steps of the day that goes away quickly
• A stabbing pain in the front of your heel
How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
Mild cases of plantar fasciitis normally go away with a little rest and the modification of activities, such as easing up while jogging. The doctor may also test the tenderness of your foot and ask you to walk to determine what movements trigger your pain. Non-surgical remedies include:
• Changing your footwear
• Performing stretching exercises
• Anti-inflammatory medications
When is Surgery Recommended?
If you are referred to an orthopedic surgeon, an x-ray or other image test may also be ordered to determine if you have fractures or bone spurs may be contributing to your heel pain. Surgery for plantar fasciitis may be recommended if there is a clear structural cause of your heel pain. There are two common surgical procedures:
• Gastrocnemius recession: A procedure that lengthens calf muscles.
• Plantar fascia release: Partially cutting the plantar fascia ligament to relieve tension.
Despite sometimes being difficult to treat, many patients respond well to nonsurgical treatments for plantar fasciitis. It’s only when such treatments fail to provide significant relief or there are underlying causes of your heel pain that an orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery.