Dr. Christine Seaworth, a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee, discusses the common causes of plantar fasciitis and treatment options to help with the pain in this patient education article.
The plantar fascia is a strong ligament that goes from the base of your heel to the base of your toes. Problems with plantar fascia are the most common cause of pain under the heel and up to 2 million people a year are seen in a medical office for treatment of their heel pain.
Usually, we don’t know why this condition starts in people but there are many similarities between the patients. Conditions such as worn-out shoes and improper shoe choices, a very high or low arch, obesity, repetitive and high impact sports, and tight calf muscles.
Common symptoms include pain under the heel or pulling sensation into the arch with walking. Increased pain in the bottom of the foot when just getting out of bed or up from sitting improves as you move about.
Pain that doesn’t resolve with rest, improved shoes, ice massage, and stretching may need to be evaluated in the clinic. Your visit will typically include X-rays and a physical exam. Your doctor will want to make sure we rule out other causes of pain with the X-ray such as stress fracture of the heel bone. Heel spurs can be commonly found on foot X-rays but are not the source of your pain and therefore do not have to be removed.
Once your diagnosis has been determined to be plantar fasciitis, you will be taken through a long list of treatments. Oftentimes it is not simple, easy, or a quick process to recovery. Treatment will require patience with small improvements week by week. Depending on the severity of your Will Short, PA-C, Dr. Seaworth's physician assistant will talk through with you options to include new shoe wear, arch supports, home exercise program, night splints, physical therapy, walking boots, and even possibly steroid injection. If your pain is severe enough to cause limping, you will need to be treated in a walking boot to prevent further injury including tendonitis and stress fractures.
Multiple repeated steroid injections are to be avoided as they can lead to the weakening of the plantar fascia ligament causing rupture. Some patients may also want to consider orthobiologics for their plantar fasciitis treatment a way to use their own cells and growth factor to try and heal their pain. This treatment is not covered by insurance but can be discussed at the time of appointment as a possible future clinic visit treatment.
University Orthoped Surgeons offers personalized foot and ankle expertise
If you're ready to discuss plantar fasciitis and treatment options with our specialty-trained foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Christine Seaworth visit us at our UT Medical Center, West Knoxville, or Sevierville locations. You can request an appointment online or call (865) 546-2663 for our UT Medical Center and Sevierville offices, (865) 218-9300 for our West Knoxville office. Telemedicine appointments are also available by request.