What Causes Plantar Fasciitis and How We Treat It

Jul 12, 2022
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis and How We Treat It
Have you ever wondered what causes one of the most common foot problems? Here’s what you should know about plantar fasciitis and how we can help you find relief from your heel pain.

You may not realize it, but your foot is an incredibly complex part of your anatomy. Below the surface of your skin, dozens of bones, muscles, and connective tissues work together to help your feet do what they do best. 

However, your foot's complexity can also be its greatest liability. 

Time and again, the demand on your feet takes its toll and leads to painful conditions — including plantar fasciitis. But what’s behind this common problem that plagues your feet? And, more importantly, how can you find relief?

In this blog, our team of experienced podiatrists at Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands answers your questions about plantar fasciitis so you can take your first steps toward getting the help you need. 

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a chronic pain condition that affects a band of tissue on the bottom of your foot known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia connects your heel bone to the base of your toes and is responsible for holding up the arches of your feet and absorbing shock when you move. 

Tension, repeated stretching, and stress cause microtears to form and irritation and inflammation to set in. Though plantar fasciitis can develop without an obvious cause, you should be aware of a few risk factors. 

Your job

If you have a job that keeps you on your feet all day — especially if you stand or walk on hard surfaces — the constant stress and weight-bearing can cause tearing in your plantar fascia. 

Your age

It’s sad but true: As you age, your body simply doesn’t have the same resilience it once did. Over time, your plantar fasciae become weaker and more susceptible to tearing. That’s why conditions like plantar fasciitis are most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60. 

Your weight

Carrying around a few extra pounds puts excess stress on just about every part of your body, including the connective tissues in your feet.

Your foot mechanics

Flat feet, high arches, and even abnormal walking patterns affect how you distribute weight when you stand and move, which can contribute to tearing in your plantar fasciae. 

Your activities

High-impact activities like running, ballet, and dancing put a great deal of force on your feet and can cause the onset of plantar fasciitis. 

Your shoes

Yes, even your choice in footwear can wreak havoc on your foot health. Flat, unsupportive shoes, as well as ultra-high heels, leave the plantar fasciae susceptible to painful tearing. Even walking barefoot can put you at risk. 

How our specialists treat plantar fasciitis

It can be tempting to try and “walk off” foot pain, but without treatment, the results can be serious and extensive. Untreated plantar fasciitis can lead to chronic heel pain that interferes with your daily life. You may even attempt to change the way you walk to manage your pain — but that affects your gait and puts you at risk for knee, hip, and back pain. 

Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for plantar fasciitis, and many of our patients find relief with only conservative intervention. Depending on your specific needs, we may recommend:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Stretching exercises
  • Custom orthotics and arch supports

We also offer minimally invasive steroid injections. With a quick injection, we can deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into the plantar fascia. 

A note about surgery

In the most severe cases — where the fascia has sustained significant tearing — we may recommend release surgery. We offer incisionless plantar fasciitis surgery and endoscopic plantar fasciotomy. Both procedures are minimally invasive and allow you to walk and bear weight almost immediately afterward. 

What you can do

In addition to our expert care and advanced treatments, there are a few things you can do to address your heel pain. For example, simply resting and icing your foot can go a long way in allowing your plantar fascia to heal. We may also suggest that you:

  • Take regular breaks from standing
  • Manage your weight
  • Wear properly fitting, supportive shoes

It’s also important that you see us right away if you have any abnormalities or conditions that affect your feet. Prompt treatment for underlying foot problems is a great way to avoid developing plantar fasciitis.

If you’d like more information, or if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone. We’re conveniently located in The Woodlands, Houston, and Huntsville, Texas.