“Plantar fasciitis”, correctly termed chronic plantar heel pain, is frequently observed in the following groups: runners, overweight or obese, and those who work standing all day long (e.g. nurses). Plantar fasciitis is actually a nerve entrapment of the inferior calcaneal nerve, often called Baxter’s nerve. The thickened plantar fascia presses on this nerve creating pain.
Plantar fasciitis may progress from acute to chronic depending on the duration and severity of symptoms, and is very difficult to treat, despite what some practitioners may say. There is no treatment that is better than any other, and the reality is that you need to address the causative factors: if you are a runner, try swimming; if you are overweight/obese, seek advice on weight loss options, and finally; if you stand all day long, well, consider alternative options.
Of course, patients want a quick fix, so they go for expensive orthotic devices, cortisone injections and sometimes surgery. However, if the causative factors are not dealt with, the aforementioned treatments are less likely to work. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try orthotics and injection therapy, because they can help – but they don’t always work, and your health practitioner wont (or shouldn’t) provide any guarantees on a successful outcome.
Once considered an alternative treatment option, shock wave therapy is now gaining acceptance amongst the medical and research fields as a viable option in reducing the pain associated with chronic plantar heel pain. Shock wave therapy works by sending high pressured acoustic shock waves through the skin to stimulate pain relief and tissue repair. Generally speaking, one session per week for 4 weeks is required to provide enough stimulation to begin the healing process. However, like any other treatment, it works for some people and not for others. Always remember to deal with the causative factors at the same time as receiving treatment, whatever that may be. For more information on plantar fasciitis visit footsurgery.com.au
- By –Dr Ji Soo Kim