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Plantar Fasciitis

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Walking for long periods of time, running too much and frequently wearing high heels for too long can all cause plantar fasciitis.
  • Plantar fasciitis and a herniated disk are factors that can lead to pain in the soles of the feet. Effective diagnosis is required so that the appropriate course of treatment may be carried out.
  • Traditional massage techniques can be used to treat plantar fasciitis.

 

Plantar Fasciitis

Many people mistake plantar fasciitis as being a minor irritation which can be treated with over-the-counter medication. However, the truth is that if not properly treated, aside from the pain affecting the daily life of the sufferer, this condition can become chronic. It may require much more serious courses of treatment, sometimes even surgery.

Plantar fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon located at the sole of the foot. The condition tends to cause an aching pain in this area after the sufferer has just woken up. These symptoms typically go away once the person begins walking around but may return again just before bedtime. The main cause of the condition is overuse of the ankle, which may stem from walking for long periods of time, running too much or wearing high heeled shoes for an extended length of time. Additionally, it can affect those who are overweight or those with irregular bone structures, such as flat feet or high-arched feet.

Before receiving treatment, doctors must diagnose the condition carefully as its symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses. For instance, a herniated disk causes pain in the soles of the feet but also leads to pain in other areas of the body too, whereas plantar fasciitis only affects the plantar fascia tendons in the soles of the feet.

Treatment

  • Most doctors prescribe treatment in the form of medication, soaking the feet in warm water, as well as stretching the plantar fascia tendon and Achilles tendon.
  • Weight loss is also advised.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy which utilizes sound waves to stimulate healing of the muscles in the sole of the feet and reduce swelling is another option.
  • Steroidal medication injections should be avoided.
  • Finally, if the aforementioned treatments have all been trialled respectively for a period of longer than 6 months without success, consideration may need to be given to surgical options. Either invasive surgery or arthroscopic surgery may be utilized to relieve the tension in the plantar fascia ligament, reduce swelling and cure the pain.

Prevention

  • Select footwear which is suitable for everyday use and reduces the impact on the feet when exercising or walking for long periods of time
  • For women who like to wear extremely high-heeled shoes or who wear them for long periods throughout the day, it is advised that the shoes be removed when resting and that the calf muscles be stretched frequently.
  • People with irregular bone structures, such as flat feet or high-arched feet, should seek advice from orthopedic specialists and have specialized footwear made which can reduce the risk of injury at the same time as reducing the chances of plantar fasciitis occurring.

Although plantar fasciitis can be a minor irritation that is usually quite simple to treat, there are still many people who select their own medication or undergo alternative procedures, such as acupuncture, that have not been proven effective in the treatment of the condition. Also, while traditional massage techniques can help to relax the muscles in the calves, it is still unable to target plantar fasciitis specifically. Therefore, if you are experiencing pain in the soles of your feet, be sure to consult your doctor in order to receive treatment that can cure the condition and allow you to return to your happy life, wearing the shoes you love and exercising until your heart’s content.


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Suwicharn Bamrungchaowkasem, M.D. Summary: Orthopedics Orthopedics