Four myths about plantar fasciitis

Proper footwear can help stave off fasciitis.

Proper footwear can help stave off fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects a wide cross-section of people, from professional athletes to everyday people. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, roughly 2 million patients are treated for it annually, a figure which does not include those people who deal with plantar fasciitis but are unwilling or unable to get medical care. Despite how common the affliction is, there are still many misconceptions about what causes it, how it develops and how it should be treated. Here are four of the biggest myths: 

The pain comes from heel spurs
Many people believe that the pain of plantar fasciitis is a direct result of heel spurs. That line of reasoning makes sense – heel spurs are often present in conjunction with the condition. However, there is no direct correlation between the two. 

"While 1 in every 10 people has a heel spur, just 5 percent of that population feel the effect of it."

While 1 in every 10 people has a heel spur, just 5 percent of that population feel the effect of it, and less than that experience pain. Thus, it is rare that foot discomfort is a function of heel spurs, particularly if it is worse upon waking up in the morning or sitting for long periods of time. If either or both of these is the case, the likelier cause is plantar fasciitis. 

When it comes to treatment, this means that the pain of plantar fasciitis can be addressed without removal of the spur itself. While most people with this condition have at least one heel spur, addressing the root of the pain is generally not focused on removing them. 

Plantar fasciitis is inherited
Unlike other foot-related issues, like bunions, there is no direct genetic component when it comes to plantar fasciitis. However, it is worth noting that there are innate risk factors, such as having flat feet. Such feet tend to roll inwards during walking, which can make you more susceptible to developing fasciitis and also aggravate it once it occurs. 

There are a number of other factors that impact the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis. In non-athletes, studies show that there is a link between higher BMI and the condition, and that obesity is present in 70 percent of people who have it. It is worth noting that the same connection was not observed in athletes. However, being an athlete is in and of itself a risk factor. 

Plantar fasciitis is permanent
This myth is so persistent because plantar fasciitis is as well. It can be a difficult condition to rid oneself of, and can flare up at the most inconvenient times. In these situations, it is natural to feel as though it will always be an issue. 

However, with careful treatment, it can be alleviated and in some cases completely resolved. Doing so requires treating both the root cause of the condition, as well as the symptoms, and taking steps to avoid activities and garments that will make it worse. 

Some of the things you can do to manage it are wearing proper, supportive footwear, stretching regularly and getting rest as soon as you notice discomfort. Consult with a doctor to determine ways that you can address the underlying issues, as well as to get information on the particulars of your case. 

There is one correct way to treat plantar fasciitis
The reason that talking with a physician is so important is that there is no one correct way to treat plantar fasciitis. While some people might believe that there is a concrete series of steps that every person with the condition should take, this is not true. 

"Within 10 months, over 90% of patients will see improvements after basic treatment"

That being said, there are some general pieces of advice that are relevant to most individuals with plantar fasciitis. Using ice, stretching and paying attention to the signals that your body is giving you tend to be good starting points for managing discomfort due to the condition. However, a full course of treatment could involve a number of other things, such as medication, soft tissue mobilization and orthotics.

For most people, the simple methods are sufficient. Within 10 months, over 90 percent of patients will see improvements after basic treatment. For others, surgery may be necessary. Because this is a serious step, it is only recommended after other options have been explored. 

Plantar fasciitis is a serious condition, and can get worse if untreated. Brownmed makes a variety of splints and supports that can help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain. Your doctor can walk you through treatment options, and provide advice directly relevant to your unique needs.