Plantar Fasciitis is a condition in which the patient suffers pain in the heel and sole of their foot. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of thick tissue running along the bottom of your foot from heel to toe.
The condition occurs most often in persons who are overweight, persons that are on their feet all day as in a factory job for example, or in runners. Other causes include strenuous exercise, being flatfooted, and age. Approximately two million patients are treated annually for pain resulting from Plantar Fasciitis.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include burning, stinging pain in the heel and sole of the foot, especially when first rising from bed in the morning or after periods of rest or standing. This pain usually subsides after a short time of walking.
How is Plantar Fasciitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis begins with questions, (have you injured your foot recently?), the doctor may then have you undergo imaging such as x-ray and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The x-rays can find things like a broken bone or bone spurs, the MRI will look for issues involving the soft tissue and nerves that may be causing you pain or can confirm the plantar fascia is the cause of your pain.
What are the treatments for Plantar Fasciitis?
Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the foot, ankle, and leg often helps relieve the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis. Specialized shoes designed to support the arch of the foot are another means of relieving symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis.
However some cases may necessitate that the patient use some form of OTC (over the counter) anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Motrin), or non-narcotic analgesics like acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) to help relieve pain and inflammation often associated with Plantar Fasciitis.
Still other patients may require stronger medicine in the form of pain relieving injections of corticosteroids or PRP (platelet rich plasma) from their doctor. Extracorporeal shock wave (ESW) therapy is another treatment that may be used to treat Plantar Fasciitis that utilizes directed sound waves to treat the foot.
What are expectations when a patient undergoes treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Any of these treatments can be effective dependent upon the severity of the patient’s condition and which treatment option is utilized. For the chronic cases the corticosteroid and PRP injections have both proven to be very effective in relieving patients’ symptoms.
ESW therapy is used less often as it does pose the risk of bruising and swelling of the foot and has not proven to be as consistently effective as the injections. The majority of patients’ who receive the injections report a significant reduction in felt pain levels.
These injections are very simple and are done in the doctors’ office. The corticosteroid injection requires only that the area of the foot to be injected be cleaned and then numbed topically prior to the injection of the medications.
The PRP injection is slightly more involved as the doctor must draw blood from the patient and then using a centrifuge device separate the platelets from the other parts of the blood. This platelet enriched plasma that remains is then injected into the foot.
How long do the benefits from the injections last?
Both of these types of injections provide a long lasting benefit. It is argued whether the PRP is more effective and safer to use as it utilizes components from the patients’ own blood. Benefit can last for up to several months at a time with either type of injection.
What are the possible side effects with these injections?
The risk of side effect is very low with both of these procedures but they are similar; they include slight bruising, swelling, and bleeding at the injection site. The corticosteroid injection poses a risk of rupturing the plantar fascia but this risk is remote.
How successful are treatments for the relief of the pain?
Both of these procedures have a very high success rate with patients’ reporting as much as 75% relief of their symptoms. Discuss your condition with your doctor to determine if these procedures may benefit you.