What is Heel Pain/Plantar Fasciitis?
Although there are many different causes for heel pain, plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in patients in our office. It is sometimes known as “heel spur syndrome” when a bone spur is present on X ray.
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.
There are many causes of plantar fasciitis, from arch problems (high or low arches), to improperly fitting footwear, walking/standing on hard surfaces, weight gain, sports injuries, etc.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are usually a combination of the following:
- Pain on the bottom of the heel
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Pain that is usually worse upon arising (from sleep or sitting, often improves within minutes of walking)
- Pain that increases at the end of a long day on your feet
A thorough physical examination is key to diagnosing plantar fasciitis, as there a few conditions that have similar symptoms.
Treatment of plantar fasciitis usually involves a combination of stretching exercises, icing, activity limitation, shoegear modification, anti-inflammatory medication, orthotic therapy, physical therapy, night splints, steroid injection, immobilization,and avoidance of barefoot walking.
When Is Surgery Needed?
Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to non-surgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of non-surgical treatment, you continue to have heel pain, 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.