Everybody experiences foot pain from time to time. Our feet ache after standing or walking around for long periods of time. They hurt if we wear the wrong shoes. Usually, foot pain is caused by external circumstances (high heels, we’re looking at you!) but sometimes, like with plantar fasciitis, it is an internal issue.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and connects your toes to your heel bone. It acts sort of like a shock absorber and a support for your foot’s arch.
When the plantar fascia gets inflamed (or somehow torn) that inflammation (or injury) is called plantar fasciitis. In other words: plantar fasciitis is medical speak for heel pain.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
This is going to sound weird, but typically plantar fasciitis is caused by the overworking of your foot (or feet). The condition, for example, is common in runners and in people who spend a lot of time on their feet.
It is important to understand, though, that “use” doesn’t necessarily mean frequent running, standing, or walking, so don’t use this as an excuse to spend all day every day on the couch!
Other factors like age, the structure, and mechanics of your feet, your weight and even your job functions can figure into your plantar fasciitis.
How Do You Know If You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
The biggest symptom of plantar fasciitis is the pain. But not all painful feet suffer from plantar fasciitis. This condition typically presents in the mornings or after you’ve been off your feet or have been standing still for a while. When you stand up or start walking again, you’ll feel a sort of stabbing pain through your foot. Once you start walking you might be able to “walk it off”, but the pain doesn’t ever truly disappear.
What’s The Prognosis For A Plantar Fasciitis Patient?
Good! Great, even! While plantar fasciitis hurts, it can be treated and, you can recover from it. Until now with or without treatment it has a tendency to linger on with periods of quiescence and exacerbation. Overall, it certainly interferes with the quality of your daily life.
My Foot Hurts! What Do I Do?
First, don’t panic. Not all foot pain is the result of an inflamed or torn plantar fascia. Sometimes our feet just get sore.
If you notice that the pain is particularly bad or if it keeps coming back, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will do an exam and you’ll likely have to have some imaging tests done before an official diagnosis can be made.
The Diagnosis Is Official. Now What?
Treatment and recovery are going to depend primarily on how severe your plantar fasciitis has become. If your pain is mild and you are still getting around okay, you might be told to wear a brace or special orthotics and you’ll be able to get some pain relief using ibuprofen and other over the counter anti-inflammatories.
If the injury/inflammation is severe, you might need medical treatment and possibly even surgery to correct the issue. Before you panic, though, you should know that surgery for plantar fasciitis is very uncommon and rarely solves the problem. Most of the time injections like steroids will be recommended. While these may provide temporary relief, with repeated injections their efficacy decreases.
Are There Alternatives?
Since traditional treatments have had less than satisfying outcomes, it is always a good idea to explore newer options. There is a treatment called Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP). This is where your doctor takes a sample of your blood and removes its red and white cells. This leaves behind a plasma that is rich in platelets. This plasma is then injected at the site of injury...in this case, your heels.
PRP contains almost 10 different agents that help your body respond to injury and promote repair. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which will help to relieve your pain. You can think of it as your body’s own version of Advil!
Why Consider PRP For Plantar Fasciitis?
Unlike steroids which can cause damage at the cellular level, PRP is completely natural and uses your body’s own materials so there’s no risk of side-effects. Plus, it is faster and far less invasive than surgery. And, unlike traditional treatments, PRP rarely needs to be repeated.
When prepared correctly, one injection is usually enough. It is important to know that not all PRP treatments are the same. Besides the method used to prepare PRP, there are several factors that the practitioner must consider, like platelet count, your health, etc. If you’re considering PRP, you may want to meet with a specialist who can help you figure out whether it is your best option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I exercise with plantar fasciitis?
Yes! But it might hurt, so you’ll need to give your feet some extra care.
Q: Can I run with plantar fasciitis?
Yes, though you might have to shorten your run and/or run at a slower pace. You may also need to wear special shoes.
Q: Can massage help plantar fasciitis?
There’s no scientific evidence proving that massage is an effective treatment but if it eases your pain, go for it.
Q: Can plantar fasciitis be seen on an X-ray?
No, but your doctor will usually order one anyway to rule out other problems like bone spurs. An ultrasound or MRI can be more helpful.
Q: Can plantar fasciitis cause leg pain?
Yes. Sometimes the pain radiates upward. Also, problems with the Achilles tendon can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Q: Can you cure plantar fasciitis?
Sort of. There are tools and techniques you can use to alleviate the pain and keep it from returning so it can certainly feel like it.
Q: Can plantar fasciitis cause knee pain?
No. If you are experiencing knee pain, something else is going on there (though you might still have plantar fasciitis). Call your doctor ASAP so you can determine the cause of your pain.
Q: Do compression socks help plantar fasciitis?
Yes, they certainly can alleviate your pain. Compression socks can improve blood flow, which helps speed up recovery.
Q: How long does plantar fasciitis last?
This is going to depend on the severity of your inflammation or injury and your commitment to your treatment plan. Sometimes relief is seen in as little as a week or two. More severe issues can take 6 weeks or so.
If you’ve been dealing with foot pain (especially heel pain that presents in the morning), book a free evaluation to find out if PRP is right for you.
Or call 949-734-9696 to request additional information.