At the Foot & Ankle Clinics of Utah, our trusted team offers personalized Plantar Fascitis treatment for patients in Orem, American Fort, and the surrounding areas of Utah. If you are interested in learning more, or if you wish to determine whether you are a candidate for treatment, call (801) 763-3885 today to schedule a consultation at one of our four office locations.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick, weblike ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. It acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch of your foot, helping you walk. This ligament is in the shape of a bowstring. If we place too much stress and tension on the bowstring, small tears can develop in the fascia. Repeated stretching and tearing in this way then inflames the fascia.
In some cases, the cause can’t be pinpointed, but there are many risk factors for developing the pain associated with plantar fasciitis:
- Age — Plantar fasciitis isn’t something young feet develop. It is most common in people aged 40 to 60.
- Activity — It is more common in active people, especially runners, ballet dancers, and aerobics instructors. Any activities that place a lot of stress on the heel and the attached plantar fascia increase risk.
- Foot mechanics — People with high arches, flat feet, or even an abnormal gait can develop plantar fasciitis because of the way their weight is distributed when standing.
- Obesity — The extra pounds place more stress on your plantar fascia.
- Occupations where you are on your feet — Factory workers, teachers, flight attendants, retail clerks, and other occupations where the person is on their feet most of the time, especially on hard surfaces, increases the risk.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Plantar Fasciitis Treatment?
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. Long periods of standing or getting up after sitting can cause this stabbing sensation. The pain is usually the worst in the morning with the first few steps out of bed.
Estimates are that one in 10 people in the U.S. will develop plantar fasciitis sometime in their lives. Anyone with the stabbing pain on the heel bottom, along with pain in the arch would need treatment and be a candidate to see us at one of our five Foot & Ankle Clinics of Utah offices.
"I have really appreciated Dr. Ollerton and his support staff. I’ve seen him about my foot pain several times. I have a plantar plate tear and a hammer toe that I have taped for about a year. I had surgery scheduled but told him it didn’t hurt even though it was ugly. He said, “if it doesn’t hurt don’t have surgery!” I appreciate that kind of honesty from a doctor. Walking is my passion and I really don’t want to be out of commission for 2 to 3 months while I recover." - Joanie L.
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
There are various at-home therapies for plantar fasciitis. We provide these for patients, and if they follow them closely their condition will usually improve within 10 months. Obviously, some patience is needed, as this condition doesn’t clear up overnight.
These are some of the treatments we advise for home:
- We will provide stretches for your calf muscles.
- Wear supportive, sturdy, well-cushioned shoes. It may be tempting to continue wearing sandals or flip flops during a hot Utah summer, but that won’t improve your pain.
- We can provide custom orthotics for your shoes, or shoe inserts may be adequate.
- We provide a night splint that reduces tightness in the calf muscle.
- We will show you how to massage the area.
- Ice the area three to four times daily for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Try and eliminate periods of prolonged standing.
- Eliminate high-impact exercise, at least until your pain improves.
- Take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Motrin.
- If you’re overweight, lose the extra pounds.
- With severe pain, consider softening impacts with crutches.
If these home therapies don’t work, we can move treatment up to these outpatient options:
- Corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation
- Physical therapy sessions
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT). Shockwaves stimulate the healing process. This isn’t a typical treatment, however.
Is Surgery Ever Necessary to Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
If the above treatments don’t make the necessary improvement after a year, surgery may come into the conversation. There are two types of surgeries we may use at Foot & Ankle Clinics of Utah. These are rarely necessary.
- Gastronemius recession — This surgery lengthens the calf muscles. Tight calf muscles put additional stress on the plantar fascia.
- Plantar fascia release — The plantar fascia is cut, partially, to relieve some of the tension.
What Can I Do to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Developing?
Making a few lifestyle changes or purchase decisions can help you avoid ever developing plantar fasciitis.
Buy good shoes that have good arch support and provide overall foot support. While you may be drawn to stylish shoes that have virtually no support, they shouldn’t be your go-to shoes when active. If you’re a runner, you should be replacing your shoes every 400 to 500 miles.
Incorporate low-impact exercises into your routine. If you’ve only been a runner or aerobics class participant, try adding bicycling or swimming to your activities, giving your feet a break. If you are a runner, don’t overdo frequency, as your plantar fascia need to rest, especially if you’ve created micro tears in the tissue. Always stretch prior to exercising.
Get to and maintain a healthy weight. This isn’t just good for your plantar fascia — your hips and knees, along with your overall health, will all benefit.
"About 18 months ago I dislocated my left ankle. Recently I'd started to develop some more intense heel pain so I decided it was time to get checked out. First visit Dr McKell wondered if Plantar Fasciitis was to blame so he taped up my foot and sent me on my way. A few days later the pain was gone. Second visit we reviewed my options, settled on a new sturdy insole, and 15 minutes later I was on my way. Very friendly staff, very minimal waiting, comfy office. Highly recommended." -Joel J.
How Can I Stay Active if I Have Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can be quite painful, but to overcome it you don’t want to become a couch potato either. The best idea, especially if your condition developed from running or other impact exercises, is to change things up. Instead of only running, take up non-impact exercise options such as bicycling or swimming.
Also, improve your footwear. Don’t keep shoes longer than the 400 to 500 miles mentioned above. As mentioned, we can create custom orthotics, or we can help guide you to over-the-counter options. The goal is to better distribute the pressure on the plantar fascia. We can provide a boot cast, which immobilizes your foot and reduces strain while your plantar fasciitis resolves.
Schedule Your Plantar Fascitis Consultation In American Fork!
If you feel you may be experiencing Plantar Fasciitis, contact one of our Doctors at the Foot & Ankle Clinics of Utah. Give us a call at (801) 763-3885 today or fill out the form in our contact page. Our practice has offices located in American Fork, Payson, Orem, Springville, and the surrounding Utah areas!