Dr. Horton describes plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects the plantar fascia of the foot. The plantar fascia is a dense connective tissue that spans from the heel bone or the calcaneus and to the end of the foot or the ball of the foot is commonly termed. It generally is a springboard during walking, so it does absorb shock, and the problem is with repetitive physical activities such as running that fascia can become inflamed, and once it becomes inflamed it usually becomes inflamed at its origin where the tendon or ligament attaches to the bone. And that is typically where people develop the pain is right in this part of the heel, often called heel pain syndrome which refers to a myriad of problems which can cause pain in the heel, plantar fasciitis being one of them.
Plantar fasciitis affects millions of people every day, those that are active, as well as those that are sedentary. It’s probably one of the most common foot complaints people have when they come to the orthopedist. The good news is that most plantar fasciitis is self-limited if you follow some simple steps. The most common is a stretching exercise, and it has to be a stretching exercise that is done specifically for the bottom of the foot.
So I instruct patients to take a towel and throw it around the ball of their foot and then pull their foot up by stretching it with the knee extended, and that will give you the greatest force and leverage across the bottom of the foot. And it’s that stretching then that increases the compliance of that tissue and makes it less prone to contracting and becoming recurrently inflamed every time a step hits the ground.
Other things that can help cool off inflammation are the classic RICE protocol. Rest--R stands for rest. Avoid the activities that are exacerbating the heel pain. I for ice; ice is very effective for controlling inflammation. Compression can be helpful. Some people will buy an appliance that provides compression to that area; others will use an orthotic insert. It doesn’t have to be a custom molded insert; it can be an off-the-shelf insert, but full-length orthotics can be helpful in resolving plantar fasciitis.
And then finally there are certain types of exercises such as the plantar flexion stretch, as well as other types of exercises that are commonly instructed by your doctor that can be effective over time. It does take time and it does take a very religious commitment to a daily program in order to resolve this condition.
Many patients are overweight and that also compounds the problem, unfortunately. So weight loss is generally considered a good idea in that situation.
About Dr. Horton, M.D.:
Dr. Eric R. Horton, M.D. is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in lower extremity conditions and ankle and foot reconstruction at Alvarado Orthopedic Medical Group. He has almost ten years of private practice experience in treating a wide range of adult, juvenile, and childhood orthopedic disorders including trauma, sports injuries, arthritis, leg deformities, and other musculoskeletal conditions of the body.