Plantar fasciitis is the term commonly used to refer to heel and arch pain traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot. More specifically, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue, called plantar fascia, that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. Overpronation is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. As the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens the foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this causes inflammation.
Also known as heel spur syndrome, the condition is often successfully treated with conservative measures, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications. In persistent cases, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment (ESWT) may be used to treat the heel pain.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is used to treat chronic heel pain (plantar fasciitis). "Extracorporeal" means "outside of the body." During this noninvasive procedure, sonic waves are directed at the area of pain using a device similar to that currently used in nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is prescribed for patients who have experienced plantar fasciitis for an extended period of time -- six months or more -- and have not benefited from other conservative treatments. The brief procedure lasts about 30 minutes and is performed under local anesthesia and/or "twilight" anesthesia. Strong sound waves are directed at and penetrate the heel area to stimulate a healing response by the body. ESWT is performed on an outpatient basis. Although there are no bandages, someone will need to drive the patient home.
People who are not candidates for ESWT include pregnant women and individuals with neurological foot disease, vascular foot disease, pacemakers, or people taking medications that interfere with blood clotting (such as Coumadin).
This therapy is a safe and effective alternative treatment for heel pain and only requires a short recovery time. Clinical studies show a 70 percent success rate for treatment of plantar fasciitis using Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.
Bone spurs are a very common foot problem. In the feet, they develop most frequently in the heel, near the toes, and on top of the big toe joint. The spurs are small outgrowths of bone. In and of themselves, they are generally harmless. However, their location may cause friction or irritation from shoes or other foot structures, which can lead to other foot problems.
Heel spurs refer specifically to bone spurs in the heel. Heel spurs are growths of bone on the underside, forepart of the heel bone and occur when the plantar fibrous band pulls at its attachment to the heel bone. This area of the heel later calcifies to form a spur. With proper warm-up and the use of appropriate athletic shoes, strain to the ligament can be reduced.
Anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, corrective shoes, and/or orthotics (special shoe inserts) are some of the common treatments for spurs. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medication. Surgery may be prescribed if spurring around the joint becomes severe or leads to recurrent pain from persistent corns.