What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Take a moment to consider the things that you use every day, not 4-5 days a week, but every single day of your life. In today’s world, the first things that come to mind are probably your car or various forms of technology like your cell phone, computer, or television. While all of these items may be vital to your career and way of life, let’s consider other things that are critical to your very survival: your feet. Recent studies suggest that a moderately active person who starts walking at one year of age and lives to be 80 years old will walk over 100,000 miles in their lifetime! With staggering figures like these, it’s easy to see why foot conditions like plantar fasciitis are enough of a concern to require their own medical specialty. Plantar fasciitis can be summarized as a painful inflammation of the ligament (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of your foot from your toes to your heel. It is one of the most commonly cited causes of persistent heel pain and a genuine concern for millions of people throughout the world. In fact, certain estimates say as much as 10% of the American population will be exposed to some degree of plantar fasciitis in their lifetime. The causes are numerous. From a medical standpoint, the pain and inflammation associated with this condition is the result of tiny tears in the plantar fascia ligament. These tears are often the outcome of repetitive, intense physical exertion or excessive weight-bearing. Though it is a significantly less common scenario, plantar fasciitis can also be a corollary of a pre-existing case of arthritis. Finally, a significant number of plantar fasciitis cases can be attributed to irregularities in the anatomy or mechanics of the foot. This includes having flat feet, high arches, pronation or abnormal gait. Before undergoing any sort of plantar fasciitis treatment plan, it is wise to disprove other possible causes of foot and heel pain. One of the most common misdiagnoses associated with plantar fasciitis is that of a heel spur, which is actually a bony protrusion from the calcaneus or heel bone that extends into the tissue of the plantar fascia. A simple x-ray of the affected foot can determine whether or not plantar fasciitis is the correct diagnosis. After identifying the source of foot pain as plantar fasciitis, treatment typically includes first attempting home care and lifestyle changes, followed by a physical therapy regime and in the most severe cases surgery. Although plantar fasciitis is typically an ailment that can be treated at home with minimal to moderate physical and behavioral changes, it is not a condition to be neglected if symptoms persist or get worse. Every person responds to stress and treatment in a different way. Thus, a consultation with your primary care physician or a podiatrist is the best course of action.

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