Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of foot pain and many Americans seek treatment for pain relief and a return to normal foot function. Unfortunately, the cause of this condition as well as the treatment required to achieve relief can be a little complicated. It requires medical care. Although most people see a podiatrist for this condition, it is also treated by some orthopedic surgeons and less commonly by family physicians. During the brief time one has with their physician in this day and age of heavily packed offices, a full explanation may not be possible or it may seem confusing initially, even at the foot specialist’s office. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on the general causes of plantar fasciitis and the treatment usually given, for those of you who have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and may still be confused by what you have and what you can do to get rid of it.
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So your doctor has diagnosed you with plantar fasciitis….
The plantar fascia is a band of rubbery tissue under the foot arch that connects to the heel at one end, and the ball of the foot at the other end. Your plantar fascia has been injured. This has likely occurred over a long period of time. Most people with this condition have it because the foot is flattening excessively, which creates strain on this tissue every time one takes a step. Over time, this strain has allowed microscopic tearing of the fascia to occur, which is now worsening daily. A much smaller percentage of people have this condition due to an arch that is too high. In this case, the foot cannot absorb shock well enough because it cannot flatten, which under normal circumstances is how the body absorbs the shock of walking. The plantar fascia becomes inflamed during the process of excess shock being transmitted to the heel and arch. On rare occasions, plantar fasciitis can be caused by injuries due to stepping on a blunt object, excessive use of ladders or stairs, or even ruptures due to various foot injuries. Your doctor likely has explained to you what the cause of your specific fasciitis is. If not, ask him or her to explain this better.
Many people associate their heel and arch pain with a heel spur. Although spurs are often present with this condition on the heel bone, they are rarely ever a contributing cause to foot pain. They simply represent an additional growth of bone tissue in response to the inflammation and strain that is occurring where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. Because you walk parallel with the direction of the spur, instead of the spur facing down into the bottom of the heel tissue, it is not contributing to your pain. You may or may not have a heel spur, and your doctor will likely have seen this on any x-rays taken during your examination.