What is plantar fasciitis? It is a question podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists at EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region frequently hear.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Research demonstrates that an estimated two million people are treated for this condition every year. Not only is it painful, but it can also make sports, activities, and even simple tasks—like walking—difficult.

At EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, Dr. John Lord, a specially trained Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) works with a team of fellowship-trained foot and ankle physicians to develop personalized, effective treatment plans to address symptoms of plantar fasciitis. We use sophisticated and innovative technology and techniques to ensure you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

What is Plantar Fasciitis and How is the Condition Diagnosed?

The plantar fascia is the long ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes. When this ligament becomes irritated and inflamed at the heel, orthopedic physicians diagnose the condition as plantar fasciitis.

Part of how podiatrists determine the presence of plantar fasciitis is by reviewing your symptoms. Patients with plantar fasciitis often exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Pain on the bottom of the foot close to the heel
  • Pain that worsens following activity (sports and exercise)
  • Pain that occurs after prolonged periods of rest (especially after a full night of sleep)
  • Pain that feels intense (stabbing pain)

In addition to going over your symptoms, a podiatrist or orthopedic foot and ankle doctor will likely run a few diagnostic tests. X-rays provide a clear image of the bones in the foot and can also detect bone spurs. And, while bone spurs do not cause plantar fasciitis, one out of ten patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis also has heel spurs.

A diagram of plantar fasciitis in an adult foot.

In some cases, your orthopedic specialist may order MRI scans if they need to rule out other issues or conditions that may be causing your heel pain.

What is the Cause of Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia plays an important cushioning role for the foot. Pressure and high stress can damage the tissue of the plantar fascia at the connection to the heel. As previously mentioned, excess weight placed on the ligament can lead to plantar fasciitis, but there are additional causes, which include:

  • Overuse
    Too much running or jumping, for example, can compromise the ability of the plantar fascia to absorb shock. Data shows that runners and soccer players are particularly susceptible to plantar fasciitis.
  • Tight Calf Muscles
    When the calf muscles become stressed and tighten, it can become more difficult to flex the feet and toes.
  • Foot Arch Issues
    Foot arches that are too high, or alternately flat (known as flat feet) lead to plantar fasciitis.
  • Footwear and Surfaces
    Worn down running shoes and footwear that do not provide shock absorption, combined with rough surfaces that do not have a give, can stress the plantar fascia.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

For many people diagnosed with the condition, their first question is “What is plantar fasciitis’ effect on my life going to be?” The majority of patients have a promising treatment outlook. According to studies, 90% of those diagnosed with plantar fasciitis improve within less than a year (with conservative treatment methods).

At EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, our podiatrists often prescribe the following non-surgical treatments:

  • Stretches and exercises
  • Shoes that are specialized to support the foot
  • Rest
  • Splints
  • Ice application
  • Medication
  • Cortisone injections
  • Physical therapy

In some cases, conservative treatment methods do not adequately address pain. If heel pain is severe or continues to worsen, surgical intervention may be recommended. At EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, we offer an endoscopic plantar fasciotomy. This minimally invasive procedure uses an endoscope to lengthen calf muscles or partially cut the ligament to relieve pressure.

An endoscopic plantar fasciotomy procedure comes with a reduced risk of complications and offers patients a more rapid recovery. In most cases, patients return to their normal activity level within four weeks after having surgery.

Our dedication to minimally invasive surgery has made us leaders in our field. We concentrate on treating the entire patient—not simply a set of symptoms. EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region has helped thousands of patients successfully recover from plantar fasciitis through our expertise and comprehensive care.

If you suspect that you may have plantar fasciitis, or any other foot pain, self-schedule an appointment today. Or, call one of our EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region offices any time at 984.279.3656.