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Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis
Classification & external resources
Areas of pain caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia which connects the area of the foot near the toes with the heel. Pain usually occurs at its attachment into the heel bone (calcaneus, panel A)
ICD-10 M72.2
ICD-9 728.71
DiseasesDB 10114
MedlinePlus 007021
eMedicine pmr/107 

Plantar fasciitis, formerly known as "policeman's heel", is a painful inflammatory condition caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia of the foot or biomechanical faults that cause abnormal pronation of the foot.[1] The pain usually is felt on the underside of the heel, and is often most intense with the first steps of the day. It is commonly associated with long periods of weight bearing. Obesity, weight gain, jobs that require a lot of walking on hard surfaces, shoes with little or no arch support, and inactivity are also associated with the condition. This condition often results in a heel spur on the calcaneus, in which case it is the underlying condition, and not the spur itself, which produces the pain.[1]



Many different treatments have been effective, and although it typically takes six to eighteen months to find a favorable resolution,[2] plantar fasciitis has a generally good long-term prognosis. The mainstays of treatment are stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia, resting, keeping off the foot as much as possible, discontinuing aggravating activity, cold compression therapy, contrast bath therapy, weight loss, arch support and heel lifts, and taping. To relieve pain and inflammation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen are often used but are of very limited benefit.[3] One small, placebo-controlled study has shown a beneficial effect from glucosamine.[4]

Care should be taken to wear supportive and stable shoes. Patients should avoid open-back shoes, sandals, and flip-flops.

Local injection of corticosteroids often gives temporary or permanent relief, but may be painful, if not combined with a local anesthetic and injected slowly with a small-diameter needle.[5] Recurrence rates may be lower if injection is performed under ultrasound guidance.[6]

In cases of chronic plantar fasciitis of at least 10 months duration, one recent study has shown high success rates with a stretch of the plantar fascia.[7][8]

Night splints can be used to keep the foot in a dorsi-flexed position during sleep to improve calf muscle flexibility and decrease morning pain. Pain with first steps of the day can be markedly reduced by stretching the Achilles tendon before getting out of bed. Patients should be encouraged to lessen activities which place more pressure on the balls of the feet. Over-the-counter arch support may help, and prescription orthoses are often prescribed. These can be made of many different materials, some of which may be hard and may press on the origin of the plantar fascia. Softer, custom devices, of plastizote, poron, or leather, may be more helpful. Orthoses should always be broken in slowly.

Therapeutic ultrasound has been shown in a controlled study to be ineffective as a treatment for plantar fasciitis.[9] More recently, however, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) has been used with some success in patients with symptoms lasting more than 6 months.[10] The treatment is a nonsurgical procedure, but must be done either under local anaesthesia either with or without intravenous sedation (twilight sedation). The basic premise behind ESWT is that in chronic pain (over six months) the brain no longer perceives the pain (even though the patient feels pain) and so no longer is sending signals to fight the pain. ESWT basically re-inflames the area and in doing so increases blood flow to the area as a means to heal the area. It can take as long as six months following the procedure to see results. Like any procedure there are varying degrees of success.[11]


Surgical procedures, such as plantar fascia release, are a last resort, and often lead to further complications such as a lowering of the arch and pain in the supero-lateral side of the foot due to compression of the cuboid bone.[citation needed] Recent research has indicated that an ultrasound guided needle fasciotomy is the most effective surgical intervention for Plantar Fasciitis. This is a minimally invasive procedure where a needle is inserted into the Plantar Fascia and moved back and forwards to disrupt the fibrous tissue that proliferates as a result of the chronic inflammation.[citation needed]

Alternative treatments

Plantar fasciitis and other forms of foot pain are sometimes treated in acupuncture clinics.[12] Although there are no large research studies, one case series on the use of electroacupuncture for treating plantar fasciitis in eleven patients found that nine reported greater than 50% reduction in pain.[13]

Most patients should improve within 1 year of beginning non-surgically treated, without any long-term problems. A few patients however will require surgery, over 95% will then be relieved of their heel pain.

Possible complications

A complication of non-operative therapy is continued pain. In surgical therapy, there is a risk of nerve injury, infection, rupture of the plantar fascia, and failure of the pain to improve. [14]


  1. ^ a b Barrett SJ, O'Malley R (1999). "Plantar fasciitis and other causes of heel pain". American family physician 59 (8): 2200-6. PMID 10221305.
  2. ^ Young, Craig C., Rutherford, Darin S. & Niedfeldt, Mark W. (2001). "Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis". American Family Physician 63 (3): 467-74,477-8.
  3. ^ Lynch, D., Goforth, W., Martin, J., Odom, R., Preece, C., & Kottor M. (1998). "Conservative treatment of plantar fasciitis. A prospective study". Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 88 (8): 375–380. PMID 9735623.
  4. ^ Jeannine Stein. "Special Fitness Issue: The Foot" (Abstract), Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2007, pp. F9. 
  5. ^ Genc H, Saracoglu M, Nacir B, Erdem HR, Kacar M (2005). "Long-term ultrasonographic follow-up of plantar fasciitis patients treated with steroid injection". Joint Bone Spine 72 (1): 61-5. PMID 15681250.
  6. ^ Tsai WC, Hsu CC, Chen CP, Chen MJ, Yu TY, Chen YJ (2006). "Plantar fasciitis treated with local steroid injection: comparison between sonographic and palpation guidance". J Clin Ultrasound 34 (1): 12-6. PMID 16353228.
  7. ^ Janet Cromley. "A foot hold that spurs healing", Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2006. 
  8. ^ Digiovanni BF, Nawoczenski DA, Malay DP, Graci PA, Williams TT, Wilding GE, Baumhauer JF (2006). "Plantar fascia-specific stretching exercise improves outcomes in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. A prospective clinical trial with two-year follow-up". The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume 88 (8): 1775-81. PMID 16882901.
  9. ^ Crawford F (2004). "Plantar heel pain and fasciitis". Clin Evid (11): 1589–602. PMID 15652071.
  10. ^ Norris, DM, Eickmeier, KM and Werber B (2005). "Effectiveness of Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment in 353 Patients with Chronic Plantar Fasciitis". Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 95 (6): 517–524. PMID 16291842.
  11. ^ Marc Mitnick. (ESWT) Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for heel pain. Foot Pain Explained. Retrieved on 2006-10-09.
  12. ^ Steinmetz M (December 1999). Treatment Choices for Plantar Fasciitis. Letters to the Editor. American Family Physician. - with reply by Barrett SL
  13. ^ Perez-Millan R, Foster L (2001). "Low-Frequency Electroacupuncture In The Management Of Refractory Plantar Fasciitis: A Case Series". Medical Acupuncture 13 (1.). - Poster presentation
  14. ^

acquired deformities of fingers and toes (Boutonniere deformity, Bunion, Hallux rigidus, Hallux varus, Hammer toe) - other acquired deformities of limbs (Valgus deformity, Varus deformity, Wrist drop, Foot drop, Flat feet, Club foot, Unequal leg length, Winged scapula)

patella (Luxating patella, Chondromalacia patellae)

Protrusio acetabuli - Hemarthrosis - Arthralgia - Osteophyte
Systemic connective
Polyarteritis nodosa - Churg-Strauss syndrome - Kawasaki disease - Hypersensitivity vasculitis - Goodpasture's syndrome - Wegener's granulomatosis - Arteritis (Takayasu's arteritis, Temporal arteritis) - Microscopic polyangiitis - Systemic lupus erythematosus (Drug-induced) - Dermatomyositis (Juvenile dermatomyositis) - Polymyositis - Scleroderma - Sjögren's syndrome - Behçet's disease - Polymyalgia rheumatica - Eosinophilic fasciitis - Hypermobility
DorsopathiesKyphosis - Lordosis - Scoliosis - Scheuermann's disease - Spondylolysis - Torticollis - Spondylolisthesis - Spondylopathies (Ankylosing spondylitis, Spondylosis, Spinal stenosis) - Schmorl's nodes - Degenerative disc disease - Coccydynia - Back pain (Radiculopathy, Neck pain, Sciatica, Low back pain)
Soft tissue disordersmuscle: Myositis - Myositis ossificans (Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva)

synovium and tendon: Synovitis - Tenosynovitis (Stenosing tenosynovitis, Trigger finger, DeQuervain's syndrome)

bursitis (Olecranon, Prepatellar, Trochanteric)

fibroblastic (Dupuytren's contracture, Plantar fasciitis, Nodular fasciitis, Necrotizing fasciitis, Fasciitis, Fibromatosis)

enthesopathies (Iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, Patellar tendinitis, Golfer's elbow, Tennis elbow, Metatarsalgia, Bone spur, Tendinitis)

other, NEC: Muscle weakness - Rheumatism - Myalgia - Neuralgia - Neuritis - Panniculitis - Fibromyalgia
Osteopathiesdisorders of bone density and structure: Osteoporosis - Osteomalacia - continuity of bone (Pseudarthrosis, Stress fracture) - Monostotic fibrous dysplasia - Skeletal fluorosis - Aneurysmal bone cyst - Hyperostosis - Osteosclerosis
Osteomyelitis - Avascular necrosis - Paget's disease of bone - Algoneurodystrophy - Osteolysis - Infantile cortical hyperostosis
ChondropathiesJuvenile osteochondrosis (Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome, Osgood-Schlatter disease, Köhler disease, Sever's disease) - Osteochondritis - Tietze's syndrome
See also congenital conditions (Q65-Q79, 754-756)
  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Plantar_fasciitis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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