Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and the most frequently seen problem by podiatrists. This condition is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the rigid ligament along the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is an extremely strong band, that rarely breaks, but the weak link is where it attaches to the heel. Putting excessive force on the bottom of the foot pulls the fascia away from the heel, which results in pain. Plantar fasciitis is prevalent among pregnant women, people with flat feet, and sports enthusiasts. Typical treatment modalities include; icing, anti-inflammatory medication, stretching exercises, cortisone shots, customized orthotics, and even surgery.
Chris Eddy is an excellent example of a patient who suffered from plantar fasciitis. Mr. Eddy got involved with marathon running ten years prior to our meeting. He was a binge runner who came to consult with me when he developed heel pain. During our consultation, he explained to me that he had been in training for an upcoming race and faced several months of grueling workouts. He explained to me that everything he did to try to control his heel pain was ineffective. His son uses orthotics and he felt that may be an option for him. It was. Having had plantar fasciitis myself, and from treating professional athletes, I understood firsthand the benefits of full-contact orthotics versus injection therapy or even standard orthotics.
Full–contact orthotics is a unique treatment not widely available in most podiatry offices. Orthotics are customized inserts worn in the shoes. Unlike standard orthotics, full-contact means that when you hold the orthotic up to the foot, it remains in full contact with the foot even when non-bearing weight. The key benefits of fullcontact orthotics is that they make full contact with the foot and they are strong enough to support a person’s body weight. Other orthotics will have one or the other factor, but not both. Furthermore, the design makes the full-contact version highly comfortable and helpful from a biomechanical standpoint.
After receiving his full-contact orthotics Chris was able to get through his training and successfully complete the marathon. Not long after the race, he mailed me a terrific photo of himself crossing the finish line with a note saying how very happy he was with the orthotics and with the treatment received at my office. I so appreciated knowing that this patient had a tremendous outcome and an outstanding clinical experience at my practice.
Remember, no matter what your skill level or phase of life, wearing the proper shoe gear is extremely important in the battle to prevent plantar fasciitis from occurring or reoccurring. At some point, everyone’s feet are going to collapse to one degree or another. It’s a matter of time, age, weight, and gravity. While this is particularly hard to do in Florida, I caution all my patients to avoid flip–flops due to their lack of support. As I always say, “using your head will heal your heels!”
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