Plantar Fasciitis Common Foot Problem
MAHASKA COUNTY – Mahaska Health Partnership Podiatrist Dr. Mark Beers said one of the most common complaints from his patients is heel pain, often diagnosed as plantar fasciitis.
“Plantar fasciitis causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning,” Dr. Beers, who has been a practicing podiatrist in Oskaloosa for more than 20 years, explained. “It often takes a while for your foot to limber up and the pain to decrease. However the pain often returns after extended walking or long periods of standing.”
Dr. Beers said plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. The plantar fascia works like a rubber band between the heel and the toes to form the arch of the foot.
“If the band is short, you’ll have a high arch, and if it’s long, you’ll have a low arch, sometimes referred to as flat feet,” Dr. Beers explained. “A pad of fat in your heel covers the plantar fascia to help absorb the shock of walking.”
As a person reaches middle age or as stress is put on the feet, the plantar fascia often loses its elasticity. The fat pad on the heel becomes thinner and can’t absorb shock as well as it once did. The extra shock damages the plantar fascia and may cause it to swell, tear or bruise.
“Besides age, other risk factors include foot arch problems (both flat foot and high arches), obesity, sudden weight gain or occupations that require a person to stand for most of the day. Plantar fascititis may also be caused by certain types of exercise, such as long-distance running or ballet dancing, or wearing improper shoes that lack arch support.”
Dr. Beers said more than 90 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis don’t require surgery. “Initially, plantar fasciitis treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medications, heel stretching exercises, night splints and/or shoe inserts.”
If these treatments fail, Dr. Beers said a cast boot for three to six weeks is often successful in reducing pain and swelling. Steroid injections are also used to relieve pain. In a few patients, surgery is required to release the inflamed fascia.
“The majority of patients who start non-surgical therapy will improve within a year with no long-term problems,” Dr. Beers stressed.
For more information on plantar fascititis or other foot problems, contact Podiatrist Dr. Beers at 641.672.3450.
Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, visit www.mahaskahealth.org.