The plantar fascia is a band of fibrous tissue on the bottom of your foot that starts at the heel and connects into each toe. Its main purpose is to make up the arch of the foot. When this tissue is exposed to repetitive motions or overuse injuries it can become inflamed, this condition is called plantar fasciitis.
However, not every pain in the foot is plantar fasciitis. If a patient’s pain is located to the arch of the foot this would more likely be a case of an intrinsic foot muscle injury or spasm. Being properly diagnosed is key for effective treatment.
What is it? In true plantar fasciitis a patient typically reports having point tenderness near the heel, especially upon their first step in the morning, after sitting for a period of time, following intense activity or climbing stairs. Burning or tingling may also be present as superficial nerves in the foot start to adhere to the damaged tissue surrounding them. As the plantar fascia is injured, micro-tearing occurs. The body then lays down scar tissue to heal these tears. This reduces the fascia’s elasticity making it become rigid, which then leads to more inflammation and so the cycle continues. As the tissues become more and more tight, beyond becoming inflamed, the fascia begins to pull from its osseous origin, the heel.
Who gets it? This is not an uncommon injury for the general population as nearly 85% of people with heel pain are active, working adults between the ages of 25 and 65. Anyone that is on their feet for a prolonged period of time is at risk for developing this condition.
What to do about it? At Twin Cities Spine+Sports we treat plantar fasciitis by examining all the soft tissue structures in the foot which may be causing or contributing to the pain and discomfort you are experiencing, not just the plantar fascia itself. Typically, the muscles making up the lower leg are involved and need to be addressed as well as the joint articulations throughout the ankle and foot.
It is only once all the structures involved are addressed that the pain and inflammation are able to be resolved. The ART® Soft-Tissue Management System provides a way to diagnose and treat the underlying etiology that causes symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning, and aching. Only a trained provider is able to diagnose the presence of abnormal inflammation and adhesions by examining tissue texture, tension, and movement.
Exercises, stretches, icing, and arch support or taping may also be utilized in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. Treatment time depends on a number of factors including how long the condition has been present and your day to day activity level. The majority of patients are able to obtain relief through non-surgical intervention but very aggravated cases could take up to a year to fully resolve. The more quickly an issue is addressed and treatment is initiated the more quickly you can get back to doing what you love, pain free.
Still have questions about plantar fasciitis? Contact us today, we’d be happy to chat!
Dr. Katie Clare, DC, CCSP, ART
Dauntless Sport & Spine Clinic
4510 W. 77th St, Edina, MN 55435