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Plantar Fasciitis

causes, symptoms, treatments, and other resources

Your heel pain initially was mild and aching. It is now a constant forest fire at the base of your heel.  Each morning you take your first step with great trepidation knowing that the searing pain is literally a step away.  Medications, rest, and physical therapy have not helped.  Your doctor is concerned and thinks you may have Plantar Fasciitis.  What is Plantar Fasciitis?  What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis? What are the risk factors? Is Plantar Fasciitis simply inflammation?  What are the treatment options for Plantar Fasciitis? What to do for Plantar Fasciitis so bad I can’t walk? Beware as not all heel pain is Plantar Fasciitis.  Meet PR.  

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the connective tissue that attaches to the base of your heel and foot.  The Plantar Fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that extends from your heel bone to your toes. The Plantar Fascia has three bands:  Medial, Central, and Lateral.   It functions to support and protect the foot (1).  Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and is estimated to affect two million people annually in the United States (2).  The prevalence is lowest in those aged 18-44 and highest in those aged 45-64 years of age. It can affect both sedentary and athletic individuals alike. 

plantar fasciitis

What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis? 

Plantar Fasciitis develops in stages.  It typically begins with slight discomfort in your heel or arch.  The mild intermittent pain can progress to a constant and debilitating nightmare.  The most common symptoms include:

  • Heel Pain (typically one sided:  left or right)
  • Arch Pain
  • Morning Pain:  That first step out of bed can take your breath away. It typically gets better as the day progresses
  • Achilles Tendon Tenderness and Pain
  • Tight Calves
  • Difficulty Walking Due to Pain

Causes & Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis

Risk factors for Plantar Fasciitis can be grouped into three major categories:  anatomical, mechanical, and environmental (3). 

Anatomical Factors

  • Obesity
  • Flat Feet
  • Very high arched feet
  • Shortened Achilles Tendon

Mechanical Factors

  • Overpronation ( inward rotation) 
  • Limited ankle movement
  • Weak foot muscles

Environmental Factors

  • Leg length asymmetry
  • Deconditioning
  • Prolonged standing
  • Poor footwear
  • Poor biomechanics

Is Plantar Fasciitis a Simple Case of Inflammation? 

No.  The term Plantar Fasciitis is misleading as the “itis” would lead the reader to suspect an inflammatory process. For example, Bursitis is the inflammation of a Bursa which can be a painful condition.  A Bursa is a fluid-filled sac that promotes frictionless sliding of tendons, muscles, and ligaments over boney areas in the body.   There are many in the foot and ankle. 

Plantar Fasciitis is NOT a simple inflammation of the Plantar Fascia.  Rather it is a chronic degeneration and micro-tearing of the Plantar Fascia (4). 

Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis

Treatment options for plantar fasciitis depend upon the severity of the condition and resources available in your community.  When appropriate conservative care should always be the first line of treatment. 

Conservative Care

Rest, safe anti-inflammatory medications such as Turmeric and Fish oil, stretching, elevation, appropriate shoes, night splint, orthotics, physical therapy are examples of conservative, first-line treatment options. 

Steroid Injections

Steroids are often recommended when conservative care fails to provide significant benefits.  Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents but are also known to cause tissue damage including cartilage damage and tendon rupture (5). 

Surgery

When conservative care and steroids have failed many patients are referred for surgery.  The most common surgery is Partial Plantar Fasciotomy which involves cutting a portion of the Plantar Fascia.  Intuitively this makes little sense as the underlying problem is degeneration and micro-tearing.  Cutting a portion of the diseased Plantar Fascia out will not address the underlying degeneration of Fascia.  Rather it will weaken an already compromised structure which can give rise to pain and dysfunction. 

PRP

Platelet-rich plasma is a powerful treatment option as it is rich in growth factors that can increase blood flow and decrease inflammation.  It is a simple process where blood is extracted from your arm, processed to concentrate the platelets, and then injected into the area of damage within the Plantar Fascia.  Ultrasound is required to ensure proper placement of the PRP.  Blind injections are below the standard of care of the Centeno-Schultz Clinic and should be avoided. In multiple studies, PRP has been not only effective in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis but is also superior to steroids (6). 

Not All Heel Pain is Plantar Fasciitis

Not all heel pain is from Plantar Fasciitis.  Establishing a correct diagnosis is critical so that an appropriate treatment plan can be developed.  This is the cornerstone at the Centeno-Schultz Clinics in Broomfield and south Denver.  The wrong diagnosis and prescribed treatments can lead to harmful outcomes as illustrated in a current clinic patient. 

Meet PR

PR is a 65-year-old Real Estate professional who presented to the clinic with a 5-year history of heel pain that was progressive in nature localized on both heels, left greater than right.  The pain was burning in character and often times awakened her at night.  Onset was not associated with any trauma.  Treatment to date had included rest, NSAIDs, stretching, and massage.  She has been given the diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis.  Her Plantar Fasciitis was so bad that she could not walk at times.  This complicated her job and her ability to care for her elderly mother.  My discussion with PR included these questions:

How was the diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis made?  The doctor simply told me that is what I had.

What imaging studies were performed?  None

Was an ultrasound examination performed confirming the diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis? No

Was a thorough examination performed including examination of your low back and nerves?  No

What were the treatment recommendations?  Surgery in 2 weeks and walking boot for 30 days thereafter.

PR disclosed that she had a longstanding history of low back pain and an episode of severe left Sciatica last year.  Her examination revealed tenderness in her low back, limited movement, and decreased sensation and strength in her left toes.  X-ray of her low back demonstrated severe disc injury characterized by the reduced height of the lowest disc.  Ultrasound of her heel and Plantar Fascia was normal.  Surgery would not have helped her.  PR did not have Plantar Fasciitis but rather an irritated nerve in her low back due to her disc injury.  PR underwent a diagnostic injection of numbing medication and a low-dose steroid.  Shortly thereafter all her debilitating heel pain was gone.  She had tears of joy.  Later this month she will return for a Platelet Epidural injection.  

To learn more about PRP injections as an alternative to back surgery and epidural steroid injections please click on the video below. https://www.youtube.com/embed/kICFiT9DsTg?feature=oembed

Other Causes of Heel Pain

As illustrated above not all heel pain arises from Plantar Fasciitis.  Other causes of heel pain include:

  • Tibial nerve entrapment or compression (Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Neuropathy from underlying medical conditions such as diabetes
  • Foot arthritis
  • Heel fracture
  • Achilles Tendinitis
  • Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
  • Low back nerve irritation secondary to disc injury, vertebral body slippage or stenosis
  • Bursitis
  • Heel spur
  • Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)

In Conclusion

  • Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the connective tissue that attaches to the base of your heel and foot.
  • Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain 
  • Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include: Heel pain, arch pain, morning pain, Achilles tendon tenderness or pain, and difficulty walking.
  • Risk factors for Plantar Fasciitis can be grouped into three major caetgories:  anatomical, mechanical and environmental.
  • Plantar Fasciitis is not a simple case of inflammation but rather is a chronic degenerative process that requires your attention. 
  • Treatment options include conservative care, steroid injections, surgery and PRP.
  • Not all heel pain is due to Plantar Fasciitis.
  • PR is a patient who was diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis so bad that she could not walk.  She was scheduled for surgery.  She had the wrong diagnosis as her heel pain was due to an irritated nerve in her low back.
  • There are multiple causes of heel pain that include nerve entrapment, foot arthritis, fracture, tendonitis, bursitis, low back nerve irritation and infection. 

If you or a loved one have ongoing heel pain, or “Plantar Fasciitis so bad I can’t walk” that has not responded to conservative treatment, please schedule a telephone candidacy discussion with a board-certified, fellowship-trained physician. At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, we are experts in the evaluation and treatment of foot and heel injuries.  From the comfort of your home or office learn what treatment options are available for you.

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Our Doctors Who Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Christopher J. Centeno, MD

Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…

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John Schultz, MD

My passion and specialization are in the evaluation and treatment of cervical disc, facet, ligament and nerve pain, including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). I quit a successful career in anesthesia and traditional pain management to pursue and advance the use of PRP and bone marrow concentrate for common orthopedic conditions. I have been a patient with severe pain and know firsthand the limitations of traditional orthopedic surgery. I am a co-founder of the Centeno-Schultz Clinic which was established in 2005. Being active is a central part of my life as I enjoy time skiing, biking, hiking, sailing with my family and 9 grandchildren.

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John Pitts, M.D.

Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.

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Jason Markle, D.O.

Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.

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Matthew William Hyzy, D.O.

Doctor Hyzy is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiatry) and fellowship-trained in Interventional Orthopedics and Spine. Dr. Hyzy is also clinical faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; In addition, Dr. Hyzy is an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at The Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Hyzy also maintains an active hospital-based practice at Swedish Medical Center and Sky Ridge Medical Center. He is also recognized and qualified as an expert physician witness for medical-legal cases and Life Care Planning. He is published in the use of autologous solutions including…

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Brandon T. Money, D.O., M.S.

Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…

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Mairin Jerome, MD

Mairin Jerome, MD

Dr. Mairin Jerome is a physiatrist with subspecialty fellowship training in Interventional Orthopedics and Regenerative Medicine. This subspecialty serves to fill the gap for patients who are interested in therapeutic options that lie between conservative treatment and surgery. Dr. Jerome uses regenerative medicine techniques, including prolotherapy and orthobiologics, via X-ray or ultrasound guidance to precisely deliver injections to areas of musculoskeletal injury or degeneration. Orthobiologics refers to tissue harvested typically from a person’s own body, such as platelets (platelet-rich plasma, PRP) or bone marrow, for use in treating painful musculoskeletal conditions. The goal is to stimulate the body’s healing mechanisms to improve pain, function, and decrease inflammation.

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More Resources for Plantar Fasciits

  • Stem Cell Treatment for Foot Pain: Learn the Truth.

    Foot pain can be debilitating. Dr. Schultz discusses the 7 major causes of foot pain, traditional treatment options, stem cell treatment options, the different types of stem cells, factors that will influence the specific stem cell treatment plan, and the advantages of stem cells over steroids and surgery.


  • Tibial Nerve Injury: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

    Dr. Markle discusses tibial nerve injury – what that means, when you need surgery, and how to avoid surgery. Transcript: Introduction Hello, Dr. Markle of Centeno-Schultz Clinic, and today we’re going to be talking about how to treat tibial nerve injury. We’ll be discussing exactly what is the tibial nerve, the muscles the tibial innervates, … Continued


  • Morton’s Toe & Morton’s Neuroma: What Are They, and What Treatments Are Available?

    Morton’s Toe vs. Morton’s Neuroma – A small course on what they are and what can be done to treat them.  Transcript Dr. John Schultz Hi, everybody. This is Dr. Schultz with the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. I thought we’d have a little fun today. You know, summer’s here and we’re having fun. Some of us are … Continued


  • 3 Things to Know About Navicular Bone Pain

    Foot pain can be crippling.  Where is Navicular Bone?  Why Does my Navicular Bone Hurt?  How do you treat Navicular bone pain?  Let’s dig in. Where is Navicular Bone? There are 26 bones in the foot.  The Navicular Bone is a small C-shaped bone located on the inside portion of the midfoot.  It is nestled … Continued


  • Life After Talonavicular Fusion: What Do You Know About this Surgery?

    Ankle pain can be excruciating often times making a simple step almost impossible.  What is a Talonavicular fusion?  What are the indications for a Talonavicular fusion?  What are the complications from a Talonavicular fusion?  What does life look like after talonavicular fusion?   Let’s dig in. Foot Anatomy The foot is compromised of  26 bones.  The … Continued


  • Heel Pain In the Morning

    Heel pain in the morning can make the first several steps excruciating.  Given that, what are the causes of pain in the heel?  What is plantar fasciitis?  Can plantar fasciitis go away on its own?  Are steroid injections helpful?  Let’s dig in What Causes Pain in the Heel? Heel pain is a common foot disorder … Continued



1.Kim W, Voloshin AS. Role of plantar fascia in the load bearing capacity of the human foot. J Biomech. 1995 Sep;28(9):1025-33. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(94)00163-x. PMID: 7559672.

2.Schwartz EN, Su J. Plantar fasciitis: a concise review. Perm J. 2014;18(1):e105-e107. doi:10.7812/TPP/13-113

3.Dyck DD Jr, Boyajian-O’Neill LA. Plantar fasciitis. Clin J Sport Med. 2004 Sep;14(5):305-9. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200409000-00010. PMID: 15377971.

4.Thomas JL, Christensen JC, Kravitz SR, Mendicino RW, Schuberth JM, Vanore JV, Weil LS Sr, Zlotoff HJ, Bouché R, Baker J; American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons heel pain committee. The diagnosis and treatment of heel pain: a clinical practice guideline-revision 2010. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2010 May-Jun;49(3 Suppl):S1-19. doi: 10.1053/j.jfas.2010.01.001. PMID: 20439021.

5. Wernecke C, Braun HJ, Dragoo JL. The Effect of Intra-articular Corticosteroids on Articular Cartilage: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2015;3(5):2325967115581163. Published 2015 Apr 27. doi:10.1177/2325967115581163

6.Hurley ET, Shimozono Y, Hannon CP, Smyth NA, Murawski CD, Kennedy JG. Platelet-Rich Plasma Versus Corticosteroids for Plantar Fasciitis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Orthop J Sports Med. 2020;8(4):2325967120915704. Published 2020 Apr 27. doi:10.1177/2325967120915704

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