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Patient Guide: Plantar Fasciitis

What can you do for chronic heel pain?

ROSEMONT, Ill., Aug. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There it is again: that heel pain you feel when you first get up in the morning. If you have persistent pain in the bottom of your heel after periods of rest or exercising, you may have plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes.

Created by orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons, FootCareMD offers educational tools to help you make informed decisions about your foot health.

The condition usually starts with pain the morning after a day of increased physical activity, and patients typically cannot recall a specific injury, says Benedict DiGiovanni, MD, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY. Stretching the plantar fascia is the best treatment after the initial inflammation has gone down, and orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists also recommend icing the sore area 20 minutes two times a day, after dinner and before bedtime, to relieve symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication can also be helpful.

But what if you've tried conservative approaches and your plantar fasciitis pain just won't go away? A plantar fascia injection or shock wave therapy may be good next steps, say orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists. An injection delivers a steroid medication directly into the plantar fascia. The steroid will relieve heel pain over several days, and it will continue to work for three to six months in many patients. Shock wave therapy is a non-invasive option that can eliminate plantar fasciitis in a small number of treatments.

When these treatments don't fully relieve heel pain, a surgery called plantar fascia release may be an option. This procedure removes or releases the diseased portion of tissue that is responsible for plantar fascia pain. This is reserved for patients who have severe pain and haven't gotten better with other treatments.

"Through research efforts, over time we've found many ways to help with plantar fascia pain," says DiGiovanni. "Stretching remains the primary treatment for most people, and if done correctly to isolate and stretch the plantar fascia, improvement of the painful first steps occurs within a month and the condition resolves in a few months. If the stretching and anti-inflammatory measures do not allow for improvement, we can also help with procedures aimed at relieving pain and improving function."

Looking for stretches to ease the pain of plantar fasciitis? Consult the Plantar Fasciitis page at FootCareMD, the patient education website of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). You'll find stretching exercises and other tips for treating your condition at home.

About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in orthopaedic foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.

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SOURCE American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society

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