• Anatomy

The plantar fascia is a tendon type structure that connects the ball of the foot to the heel bone on the bottom of your foot. Pain in the plantar fascia usually occurs on the bottom surface of the heel and sometimes it extends into the long arch of the foot. The plantar fascia does not have a direct blood supply. This makes it very difficult to heal a plantar fascia injury.

  • Function

The plantar fascia is very important in maintaining the height of the long arch and the structural stability of the foot. It is important in aligning the rearfoot so the foot can propel the body forward during walking. Injury or rupture to this structure makes walking nearly difficult and can limit mobility or your ability to exercise.

  • Causes of Injury

The number one cause is long standing congenital or inherited flatfoot condition. This condition will put excessive strain on the plantar fascia during walking eventually causing it to become inflamed, and eventually tear.
Having diabetes causes glycosylation of all tendon structures and can add to the chances of rupture. Rupture of the plantar fascia in a diabetic person can cause further weakening of the foot and potentially further collapse of the foot.
There are numerous other predisposing conditions including obesity, trauma, and overuse syndrome that could result in injury to the Plantar Fascia.

  • Treatments
  • Immobilization and Protection

This is the single most important treatment. You must protect the injury to give it a chance to heal and to lessen the chance of total rupture. A cam walker boot is used in more severe cases for the short term protection and functional foot orthotic devices are used for less severe injury and for long term treatment, to prevent harmful pronation of the foot during walking.

  • Steroid Injections and Non-Steroidal Medications

Cortisone shots reduce pain temporarily. They do not heal the injury, and can cause rupture of the tendon. Cortisone shots are harmful and contra-indicated for this condition. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications do not relieve inflammation in tendons and give a false sense of security which may prevent you from properly protecting the injury.

  • Physical Therapy

Can be mildly helpful to relieve symptoms temporarily but is not capable of stimulating healing of an injured tendon lying deep in the foot. Stretching of this structure by the therapist may be counterproductive and prolong the injury healing time.

  • Heat vs Cold

Ice is used only to stop bleeding. Although everyone recommends Ice for almost anything that hurts. This is wrong thinking. Use heat to increase the circulation. Increasing circulation washes out toxins and promotes healing. Use wet heat daily and consistently to promote healing.

  • Shock Wave Therapy

Pneumatic shock wave therapy will work like gravity does on bone and jump start the healing process. Treatment is given one time per week for six consecutive weeks. Healing usually takes 6-12 weeks. Shock wave is not covered by insurance. We charge $125 per week for 6 weeks.

  • Cutting Edge Laser MLS Therapy

Cutting Edge Laser Therapy is a focused therapeutic treatment given 3 to 5 times per week during the healing process. The laser beam shoots right through the skin and soft tissue and increases the circulation directly around the tendon and bone washing out toxins and improving healing. It is not covered by insurance. We charge $10 per treatment.

  • Topaz Surgical Repair of the Tendon

This procedure is performed in the operating room. No incision is needed for this procedure. Through multiple puncture holes in the bottom of the heel, burn holes are created in the plantar fascia with the Topaz wand. The burn holes allow ingrowth of blood vessels into the tendon. Using a needle inserted into your heel bone, bone marrow containing stem cells is extracted and injected directly into the burn holes. It is believed the stem cells further encourage tendon healing and improve the outcome of the operation. The procedure temporarily weakens the tendon but eventually stimulates it to heal. Post operatively a cam walker boot must be worn for six weeks to give the plantar fascia time to heal. All surgery carries risks and possible complications that will be discussed during surgical planning.

Combination therapy always works better. Each part contributes to healing in different ways.

  • Immobilize and protect with orthotics in some cases cam walker boot.
  • Stimulate healing with shockwave therapy.
  • Increase circulation to the tendon with Cutting Edge Laser Therapy 3 times per week.

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