Plantar fasciitis is the swelling of the thick tissue at the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue at the bottom of your foot which creates and supports the arch of the foot. When the fascia is overstretched or overused, it can become inflamed and cause pain which makes walking more difficult.
It affects men more commonly than women particularly in the age group of 40 to 70 years. It can also be seen in younger persons particularly who frequently stand on their feet like athletes and soldiers.
Plantar Fasciitis Cause
Previously stated, fasciitis is an overuse injury which results from excessive walking or long distance running and walking bare foot. Obesity, sudden weight gain, and poor fitting shoes are all risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis. If your Achilles tendon or calf muscles are too tight, then too you are at a high risk of developing plantar fasciitis sometime in your life.
Experts believed that heel spurs cause plantar fasciitis, but now the belief is that heel spurs are the result and not the cause of plantar fasciitis. A heel spur is a small, bony growth on the underside of the heel bone.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain at the bottom of the heel, which is usually worse in the morning but may improve throughout the day. At the end of the day, your pain may turn into a dull achy feeling on the bottom of the foot. However, if you carry out activities like running or climbing stairs, your pain may intensify.
Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosis
Your doctor may ask you specific questions regarding your condition. He will examine your foot looking for any swelling or tenderness. He may ask you to stand and walk. He also may ask you about your occupation and may ask if you play any sports. An MRI may be ordered by your physician to confirm a plantar fasciitis diagnosis. If your physician suspects fracture or arthritis he may ask you to go for an Xray. X-rays are not helpful in diagnosing plantar fasciitis because ligaments are not seen clearly.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Plenty of rest needs to be given to the foot by even restricting walking indoors. Walking or running on hard surfaces should be avoided as much as possible. Application of ice twice daily for 10 – 15 minutes will help the pain associated with this condition.
Certain exercises like calf stretches and towel stretches can be performed. A physiotherapist is a reliable healthcare professional that can teach these exercises. Wearing a heel cup, felt pads in the heel area, or an orthotic device helps as well. Also, your physician may recommend using night splints to stretch the injured fascia and allow it to heal. Wearing properly fitting shoes with good arch support will also reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
Anti -inflammatory medications help to some extent, but medications cannot cure the condition. Drugs will only reduce pain making it easier for you to follow certain exercises.
Some doctors also advocate the use of steroid injections which can provide lasting relief in many people, but it is painful. Steroids only provide pain relief, they do not heal the condition.
If these treatments fail, physicians may opt to put the affected foot in a short leg cast (a cast up to but not above the knee) for 3 – 6 weeks and this treatment is often successful in reducing pain and inflammation. You can also use a cast boot and this can be removed at the time of bathing.
If all conservative treatment fails, then surgery may be advised to release the tight and inflamed fascia.
PRP for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is a common foot ailment that affects millions of individuals. It is characterized by chronic and severe pain, caused by a plantar fascia that has become inflamed. Plantar fasciitis makes standing, walking and running difficult. Plantar fasciitis is typically treated with anti-inflammatory medication, stretching exercises and cortisone injections. The use of orthodics is quite common as well. However, a growing number of doctors are beginning to use an alternative form of care, PRP therapy.
The plantar fascia is the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It stretches from the heel to the toes. Individuals that suffer from plantar fasciitis will find that they experience a significant amount pain and stiffness in the morning. The pain typically subsides as the plantar fascia loosens up but can be made worse by physical activity.
PRP therapy helps to facilitate the healing of the plantar fasciitis. Traditional therapies do not. For instance, stretching the affected foot and the connecting calf muscle and Achilles tendon, helps to loosen up the plantar fasciitis and relieve pain but it doesn’t necessarily promote or speed up healing. The same is true of anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone shots. Both help to relieve pain but do little else.
PRP therapy, as a way to treat plantar fasciitis, is growing in popularity because it takes a more active approach to care. Traditional forms of care tend to be more therapeutic. PRP therapy has also proven to be superior to cortisone or steroid shots, which tend to cause long-term damage. Tissue breakdown and tendon rupture are risks of prolonged cortisone (injection) use.
Doctors may recommend that their patient undergo PRP therapy in lieu of traditional therapies because PRP has been shown to activate plantar fascia healing. Traditional approaches to care seek only to minimize pain and further damage. PRP therapy works to not only promote but accelerate healing and tissue regeneration.
Platelets found in a patient’s own blood contains growth factors. These growth factors are used by the body to heal injuries. Platelets are extracted from the patient’s blood via a centrifuge machine and then injected into the afflicted body part. When PRP therapy is used to treat plantar fasciitis, the platelets are injected into the plantar fascia.
PRP therapy may also be used in lieu of surgery. Individuals with a severe case of the foot condition may be treated via surgery. There are a variety of risk, some very serious, associated with plantar fasciitis surgery. Nerve damage, infection, and failure are all possible outcomes. PRP therapy is much less invasive then the surgery and the potential side effects much less serious.
PRP injections cost between $500 and $1500 per injection. Because it is considered an experimental (or semi-experimental) procedure, insurance companies will not pay for it. This may change in the near future. For now, however, individuals interested in utilizing PRP therapy for the treatment of plantar fasciitis will have to pay for the procedure themselves. The cost will vary depending on the number of injections required.
Read more about the PRP Injection Protocol here.
FAQ’s-Questions to Ask Your Doctor
1. How many injections will I need?
2. How much experience do you have with PRP therapy?
3. What happens if PRP therapy doesn’t work for me?
4. Do you accept payment in installments?
5. Am I am good candidate for PRP therapy?
Plantar Fasciitis Prognosis
Conservative treatment will most likely improve a patients quality of life, but this treatment may take months to years to heal the condition. The earlier you start a treatment, the better your chances of healing your foot.
Plantar Fasciitis Prevention
Maintaining good flexibility around the ankle is the best way to prevent plantar fasciitis. Taking good care of feet by wearing proper shoes with good arch support is required. Avoid going barefoot, even indoors, and avoid wearing slippers. If you are a sports person, you may consult your sports training specialist for proper guidance to prevent it from recurring.
Plantar Fasciitis Complications
If it is not treated, it may cause constant heel pain when you stand or walk. This will undoubtedly impact your overall quality of life.
Questions you may like to ask your doctor
- What is plantar fasciitis?
- Why does it happen?
- What increases my chance of getting plantar fasciitis?
- Can it be prevented?
- What can I do to treat it at home?
- What exercises can help reduce plantar fasciitis?
- What medicines can help treat it?
- Will I need a surgery?
- Will my pain get worse?
- Do I need to stop participating in sport activities?
- When can I return to normal exercise program?