Assessing the Risks: Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis

Of the numerous musculoskeletal conditions treated by healthcare providers like orthopedic doctors, plantar fasciitis is the most common across athletic and non-athletic patients alike. Research indicates that 2 million Americans cope with plantar fasciitis every year, and the condition accounts for at least 15 percent of all adult foot complaints that require professional care. Identifying and assessing the factors associated with the development of plantar fasciitis can support diagnosis and treatment.

A Brief Introduction to Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a type of heel pain that stems from the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes. Since the plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot, it can become weak, swollen, and inflamed if strained or stressed. This leads to pain in the heel and bottom of foot when standing or walking. The most common causes of plantar fasciitis include wearing the wrong type of shoes, remaining vertical on hard surfaces for long periods of time, and being overweight.

Risk Factors for Developing Plantar Fasciitis

According to research between 2008 and 2014, there are multiple factors that make it more likely that a patient will develop heel pain. Many studies have found that running is a significant risk factor for the athletic population, especially street running and for runners wearing spiked shoes. Increased arch height has also been identified as a risk factor for runners.

Furthermore, among the non-athletic population, there is a strong association between greater body mass index and chronic plantar heel pain. This is especially true among assembly-line workers and other types of employees who stand on hard surfaces for extended amounts of time. Truck and forklift drivers who move in and out of their vehicles frequently during the day are exposed to the same risk.  

Responding with Interventions

There are many types of interventions that are commonly prescribed for plantar fasciitis, but none work quite as effectively as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. This cutting edge regenerative medicine treatment heals the foot in a way that special rollers, steroid injections, and night splints simply cannot.

PRP involves drawing a small quantity of blood from the patient and placing it through a special centrifuge machine to prepare a concentration of platelets. These platelets contain powerful proteins and growth factors that trigger the body’s natural healing response in a more accelerated manner. Patients often feel relief within just days or weeks, because PRP treatment is able to heal the damaged plantar fascia and minimize painful inflammation.

William F. Bennett, M.D.

Orthopedic Surgeon at Bennett Orthopedics & SportsMedicine

Highly skilled, experienced orthopedic surgeon with dual fellowships in sportsmedicine-arthroscopy and shoulder surgery. Prolific publication history, winner of several patents, numerous accolades as instructor -see Honors-awards- natural self-passion for learning and ability to convey material to others in easily understood fashion.
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