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Heel Pain? It Could be Plantar Fasciitis

STEVENS POINT, WI If you experience chronic heel pain, chances are you suffer from a condition called plantar fasciitis. An estimated 10 percent of Americans suffer from this condition.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that supports the arches of the foot. This wear causes the plantar fascia to stretch and tear, causing painful irritation and inflammation. The good news is that once diagnosed, it is possible to alleviate this pain.

Symptoms

Dr. Dawn Anderson, a podiatrist/foot and ankle surgeon who cares for patients at Aspirus Stevens Point Clinic, treats many patients suffering from this condition. “Patients with plantar fasciitis often experience a sharp pain in the foot first thing in the morning or when getting up after an extended period of sitting,” said Dr. Anderson. “The condition often develops gradually and can affect one or both feet.”

Dr. Anderson suggests that once this pain starts to affect day-to-day activities, it’s time to see a podiatrist. If left untreated, it is possible for plantar fasciitis to cause foot, knee, hip or back problems because of the changes in walking motion.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that increase the chance of developing plantar fasciitis. These include activities that place a lot of stress on the heel, such as running, or wearing improper shoes that are thin soled, unsupportive, or have high heels. “Certain foot types in particular, such as being flat-footed, can also cause increased stress on the plantar fascia,” adds Dr. Anderson.

Diagnosis

During a podiatry exam, the doctor will ask you about your history and activities. He or she will also perform a physical exam of your foot to locate the areas of tenderness. In some instances, x-rays or diagnostic ultrasounds may be needed to determine or rule-out other causes and conditions.

Treatment

The extent of the pain and inflammation from plantar fasciitis is different from person to person. Once diagnosed, treatment options can include simple changes, such as modifying your activities, losing weight, icing the area, changing your running or exercise regimes, or purchasing more supportive shoes. Other patients may require medication, physical therapy, or orthotics.  An extremely small percentage of patients require surgery to repair the problem.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Anderson or another Aspirus podiatrist close to you, call Aspirus Podiatry Associates at 715-675-2321. To learn more about the podiatry/foot and ankle surgery services offered by Aspirus, visit aspirus.org/foot-ankle-care

To learn what you can do about other common foot conditions, listen to the Aspirus podcast “Why Do My Feet Hurt?”