FAQs on Plantar Fasciitis Treatment in Las Vegas

One of the most common conditions that cause foot and heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The strong band of tissue supporting the foot arch is the plantar fascia. If this structure is injured, inflamed, or irritated, this causes pain in the heel area of the foot. Around 2 million people in the U.S. are treated for plantar fasciitis each year.

Is a heel spur the same as plantar fasciitis?

Approximately 10% of the general population has heel spurs, but only 5% of these people experience foot pain. Patients who have plantar fasciitis often do have heel spurs, but this is not the cause of foot pain.

What are the risk factors for plantar fasciitis?

Certain things place a person at increased risk for developing plantar fasciitis. These include:

  • Advancing age – The condition is more common among persons 40-60 years of age.
  • Weight – Excessive pounds add stress to the plantar fascia.
  • Faulty foot mechanics – Having a high arch or being flat-footed both can contribute to abnormal patters of ambulation (walking).
  • Exercise – Activities that put stress on the heel and plantar fascia increase the risk for this condition, such as ballet dancing, long-distance running, and aerobics.
  • Certain occupations – Teachers, nurses, factory workers, and anyone who stands or walks on hard surfaces can damage the plantar fascia.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia absorbs high strain and stresses that are placed on the feet. When the feet sustain pressure, from excessive walking, running, or prolonged standing, this can lead to small tears of the plantar fascia tissues. The body’s immune response becomes activated with plantar fascia injury, and this leads to heel pain, stiffness, and plantar fascia discomfort.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

Pain at the bottom of the foot and near the heel is the main symptom of plantar fasciitis. Other symptoms include pain when rising after a long rest period, particularly of the morning, pain after exercise (not during), and resolution of pain with rest.

How does the doctor diagnose plantar fasciitis?

If the pain specialist suspects you have plantar fasciitis, he/she will ask specific questions about your pain, take a detailed medical history, and conduct a physical examination. Certain diagnostic tests can be used to evaluate, as x-rays provide images of the foot bones. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are also used to rule out serious causes of foot pain.

How is plantar fasciitis treated at the pain management center?

The pain specialist will often use a combination of treatments to alleviate the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Common treatments are:

  • Medications – The drugs of choice include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are ketoprofen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Topical agents are also prescribed, including salicylates, capsaicin, menthol, and camphor.
  • Rest/Ice – Resting the foot will reduce pain for most patients. Ice packs should be applied for 20-minute intervals 3-5 times each day.
  • Physical therapy – For patients with chronic plantar fasciitis, physical therapy involves stretching and strengthening exercises. The plantar fascia stretch involves crossing one foot over the knee of the opposite leg and pulling toes forward. According to a recent research study, physical therapy is around 85% effective for treating plantar fasciitis.
  • Orthotics, support shoes, and splints – To alleviate the discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis, the doctor may recommend special heel pads or arch supports.
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – The doctor can use a computerized device to deliver high-energy impulses to the plantar fascia. ESWT stimulates the healing process. Based on clinical studies, 70-90% of patients have success with this procedure.
  • Steroid injections – The doctor can inject the plantar fascia with a long-acting corticosteroid agent. Multiple injections are not recommended; however, because this can weaken the tissue structures.

Resources

Hyer CF, Vancourt R, & Block A (2005). Evaluation of ultrasound-guided extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis. J Foot Ankle Surg, 44(2):137-43.

McMillian, AM, Landorf, KB, Gilheany, MF, et al. (2012). Ultrasound guided corticosteroid injection for plantar fasciitis: Randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal.

Rome K, Howe T, & Haslock I (2001). Risk factors associated with the development of plantar heel pain in athletes. The Foot, 11(3):119-125.

Wearing SC, Smeathers JE, Yates B, et al. (2004). Sagittal movement of the medial longitudinal arch is unchanged in plantar fasciitis. Med Sci Sports Exercises, 36(10):1761-1767.