Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Definition, and Treatment
You might be familiar with Plantar Fasciitis as the cause of excruciating foot pain - and that’s exactly right. What exactly can we do about it? And how can we treat it? Fulton cares deeply about understanding the body to better take care of it. To learn more about Plantar Fasciitis causes and treatments, we dove into the details with Dr. Fred De Lucia, DPM, a board-certified podiatric surgeon at the Foot and Ankle Surgeons of New York.
What is it? Definition of Plantar Fasciitis
The feet are incredibly complex devices. Compared to the size of our bodies, they are relatively small, and are asked to support 3-4 times our body weight whenever we walk, run, or jump. The foot is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints, and over 100 tendons, ligaments, and muscles, all of which work together to support us as we go about our daily lives.
One of the most important ligaments in the foot is the Plantar Fascia, where Plantar Fasciitis derives its name. It runs the entire length of the bottom of the foot, in a way that Dr. De Lucia compares to a large, flat rubber band. When you put weight on your feet, the Plantar Fascia stretches out to help your feet bear the weight of your body. As a result, the “rubber bands” in your feet stretch out too. It may help to see this difference visualized:
If too much stretching occurs, a Plantar Fasciitis tear may begin to occur. For the 10% of US adults who develop Plantar Fasciitis at some point in their lives, bearing weight on your feet can result in immense pain. According to Dr. De Lucia, patients that he sees with Plantar Fasciitis tend to have flat or high arches and experience a sudden change in activity in their daily lives. Common cases include someone who begins regular physical activity after a few months off, starts a new job that requires a lot of standing or lifting, or wears a new type of shoe that they don’t usually wear.
Unfortunately, Plantar Fasciitis won’t go away if left untreated - in fact, as more tearing occurs, it may actually get worse. According to Dr. De Lucia, failing to take care of Plantar Fasciitis over the long-term can lead to joint pain, gait disturbances, or scarring of the ligaments.
Can Plantar Fasciitis be Cured? Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
Even though a Plantar Fasciitis tear could be incredibly painful and persistent, the good news is that there are an abundance of treatments available. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 90% of Plantar Fasciitis cases can be treated within 10-months using at home remedies.
For long-term, chronic Plantar Fasciitis, it’s best to take care of the feet by introducing arch support into your everyday shoes. Proper arch support has the effect of alleviating the strain that your body places on your Plantar Fascia when you put weight on your feet (i.e. by standing, walking, or running). An insole with proper arch support prevents the Plantar Fascia from stretching while flat, mitigating the strains that cause Plantar Fasciitis tears. See the benefits of an insole with arch support visualized below:
Fulton insoles are the brand of insoles that Dr. De Lucia recommends to his patients, as they provide comfortable arch support and mold to the shape of your feet over time. In the context of the visuals above, that means they align to your feet in a way that supports your unique arch type and walking style. Learn more about Fulton insoles here.
In addition to adding orthotics into your shoes, there are other at-home ways to cure Plantar Fasciitis. The Cleveland Clinic recommends spending 15-20 minutes per day stretching your calves, massaging the feet regularly, and applying ice 3-4 times per day. If the pain persists from more conservative approaches, that’s where Dr. De Lucia and the Foot and Ankle Surgeons of New York team comes in. They routinely perform surgeries on conditions like Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, and hammertoes. Regarding Plantar Fasciitis, Dr. De Lucia noted that Endoscopic Plantar Fascia Release surgery is highly effective: it’s a minimally invasive surgery that helps reduce inflammation and ultimately repair the damaged ligament.
Plantar Fasciitis can quickly become the bane of your existence if not cared for properly. Understanding what causes Plantar Fasciitis and how to treat it are critical components of mitigating body pain and getting back on your feet. Take care of your feet - they’re the foundation of your body. Learn more about how Fulton insoles can help.
More about Dr. De Lucia
Dr. De Lucia is dual Board Certified as a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the American Board of Foot and Ankle Orthopaedics and Medicine. He specializes in complex adult and pediatric foot and ankle reconstruction and trauma surgery. He is an Honorary Police Surgeon of the New York Police Department.