Plantar Fasciitis

Torrance Foot & Ankle Specialist

The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, connects the heel to the base of the toes, and supports the arch of the foot. Because there is a tremendous load on the fascia every time the foot hits the ground when running, walking, jumping, skipping, etc., the plantar fascia can become strained from overuse. This can cause swelling, inflammation, fraying of the plantar fascia, and pain.

Plantar fasciitis often begins gradually with mild heel pain, and will typically be felt after exercise or physical activity and after sleeping or sitting for an extended period of time. When left untreated, it can become a chronic condition that causes severe pain and limits activity. It may also lead to the development of other problems affecting the foot, knee, hip, and back, as the condition changes the way a person walks.

In many cases, plantar fasciitis is associated with heel spurs. Heel spurs are extra bone deposited at the site where the fascia attaches to the heel bone, this is a very common body response to stress. However, it is usually the tearing of the plantar fascia that causes pain, not the bone spur.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

While it can take months to reduce pain and symptoms with plantar fasciitis, surgery is rarely required. Treatment will typically begin with the least invasive treatment modalities:

  • Medication – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Exercise / physical therapy – Home exercises, stretching, and physical therapy can improve function by stretching and strengthening the lower leg muscles.
  • Arch support – Shoes with arch support and arch support inserts can increase shock absorption and support, influence foot position, and reduce pain.
  • Night splints – One of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis is sharp pain in the heel when getting out of bed in the morning. When feet are pointed while sleeping or sitting for long periods of time, the plantar fascia is shortened. Those first steps in the morning or rising from a chair are painful because the fascia is then stretched and torn as the foot is loaded with your body weight. Night splints are designed to provide a gentle stretch to the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. This gentle stretch helps reduce the muscle contracture, inflammation, and associated heel pain, and helps promote healing of plantar fasciitis.
  • Corticosteroids – An injection with a steroid/cortisone to the area may also help reduce pain and inflammation and allow the plantar fascia to heal. However, not all patients get full relief from this and the injection can be quite painful.

In a few cases where patients obtain no relief from plantar fasciitis after months of nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be required.

Request an Appointment

If you would like an evaluation for plantar fasciitis with a foot and ankle specialist from Torrance Memorial Physician Network, call to request an appointment. We serve the South Bay from three convenient locations.