Heel pain is a common complaint among many of my patients, most notably due to plantar fasciitis. By now we have all heard of this condition, but what is plantar fasciitis exactly? Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain. The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to faulty structure of the foot.
For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. This is particularly evident when one’s job requires long hours on the feet.
For one NBA player, this is proving to be a greater obstacle to overcome than the Miami Heat defense. (http://nba.si.com/2014/04/20/al-jefferson-foot-injury-bobcats-heat/) NBA player Al Jefferson says he felt a “loud pop” and received two injections to numb the pain in his foot in order to finish the game as comfortably as possible. The loud pop he heard was likely the plantar fascia actually rupturing, which is an exquisitely painful condition. However, there is a glimmer of hope. Rupturing the plantar fascia is of course not ideal; although, it does relieve the constant pulling of the inflamed fascia from the calcaneus or heel bone. And as a result, Al Jefferson was able to play in game 2 of the NBA playoffs versus the Miami Heat after just 48 hours of rest and recuperation.
Episodes of chronic plantar fasciitis not responding to conservative treatment may eventually require a surgical procedure known as a “plantar fasciotomy”. A plantar fasciotomy is the surgical release of the plantar fascia from the insertion of the calcaneus, thus relieving the constant stress and strain during weight-bearing and the propulsive phase of the gait cycle. Al Jefferson essentially ‘released’ his plantar fascia during Game 1, mimicking a surgeons technique; although nowhere nearly as precise as he would have liked.
Fortunately, approximately 80% of the millions of those that experience heel pain annually respond to conservative treatment. If you or a loved one are experiencing heel pain, give us a call at (337) 474-2233 to schedule your appointment or visit our website at www.LaFootAnkleSurgeons.com for our online appointment request with Louisiana Foot and Ankle Specialists. We look forward to serving you.
– Daniel T. Hall IV, DPM