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Plantar fasciitis: a doctor/patient dialogue

photo of a young woman massaging her painful heel

Plantar fasciitis: a doctor/patient dialogue

Posted by American Foot and Leg in Foot Problems 30 Jun 2017

The patient says, “My foot hurts like all get out.”

The doctor says, “Welcome to my office. Let me take a look.”

Foot doctors across the nation see a steady stream of patients who limp in complaining of excruciating heel pain. In order to diagnose the problem, the doctor asks several pertinent questions:

  • Have you had any foot injuries?
  • Where does your foot hurt and when does it hurt?
  • What type of physical activity do you do?
  • What type of shoes do you wear? How old are the shoes?

Then the doctor thoroughly examines the patient’s foot:

  • Are the patient’s feet flat or is the arch abnormally high?
  • Do the patient’s feet roll inward, or pronate, while walking?
  • Where, exactly, is the foot tender?

If needed, an X-ray may be ordered to make sure there is no stress fracture or pinched nerve.

The doctor says, “You have plantar fasciitis.”

Once the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is confirmed, treatment and therapy can be prescribed to reduce inflammation and relieve the intense pain associated with the condition. Consistency is critical to success in treating plantar fasciitis. Seeking treatment early on will speed recovery.

You say, “How did I get this condition?”

The pain of plantar fasciitis is due to inflammation of the ligament, aka plantar fascia, that connects the heel bone to the toes. The ligament, a flat band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot, normally flexes as we walk. However, aging, excess weight, old shoes, or poor shoe choice can create small tears that weaken the ligament and lead to swelling and inflammation. Once inflamed, the plantar fascia causes stabbing pain in the heel area. Typically, the pain is at its worst in the morning.

The doctor says, “Here are some things you can do.”

Patients suffering from this condition clamor for relief. After diagnosis, the doctor will discuss a number of strategies to help relieve the inflammation:

  • Rest-don’t walk or run on hard surfaces.
  • Ice-apply ice to your heel at least twice a day
  • Stretch-do calf, toe, and foot stretches as often as possible during the day
  • Buy new shoes-be sure they have good arch support and cushioning
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication-Advil, Motrin, or Aleve

You say, “If this doesn’t work, then what?”

If home health care does not provide relief, the doctor may suggest a steroid shot or custom orthotics to fit in the shoes. Surgery is rarely indicated for plantar fasciitis.

The doctor says, “Patience, patient.”

Patients must remember, however, the condition did not develop overnight, so it will not disappear overnight. Sometimes it takes several months of therapy and treatment to get rid of the inflammation and pain. Patience is required of plantar fasciitis sufferers.

The doctor also says, “You can’t wish this away. You need treatment.”

If your heel hurts, make an appointment with the doctors at American Foot and Leg Specialists. They will listen to your symptoms, diagnose your problem, and get you on the road to recovery. Don’t suffer with the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis or any other foot condition. With offices in Forest Park, Fayetteville, Locust Grove, and Stockbridge, American Foot has a location near you.

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