Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)

Heel pain can encompass several different problems depending on the exact location and quality of the pain (ie. tendonitis, stress fracture).  However, plantar fasciitis is the most common diagnosis associated with heel pain. The plantar fascia is a band of soft tissue that extends from the heel bone to the toes; the function of which is to provide support to the arch when ambulating.

Definition 
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed-resulting in heel pain.

Symptoms 
Common symptoms include pain on the bottom of the heel.  Most often this pain occurs when getting out of bed in the morning or after sitting for long period of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain decreases, because walking stretches the fascia. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.

Causes 
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is foot structure.  People with high or low arch height can predispose the plantar fascia to increased stress.  Shoe gear with little or no arch support combined with a job that requires several hours of walking can also impart additional stress on the fascia band.

Diagnosis 
The pain associated with plantar fasciitis can usually be elicited and diagnosed by your Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeon during a routine clinic visit.  Additionally, heel spurs are commonly identified but rarely cause discomfort.  Other imaging modalities that might be utilized include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or x-rays.

Treatment 
Your Podiatric Physician can offer you several conservative options to relieve plantar fasciitis.  In fact, plantar fasciitis is successfully treated by conservative therapy 9/10 times.  However, if non-surgical treatment does not reduce or relieve the discomfort surgery will be considered. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial for you.