The sole of our feet consist of a bunch of fibrous tissues, collectively known as plantar fascia, which is mainly responsible for providing support to the arch of the feet. These tissues extend from the heel to the base of the toes. If the tissues get worn out because of excessive strain on the feet, then the area tends to swell and this leads to severe heel pain. The condition is termed as plantar fasciitis.
Athletes, obese people, those with flat foot or high foot arch are at a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Standing for long hours, walking long distances or use of footwear with stiff soles are other conditions that contribute towards this foot problem. It is more commonly found in pregnant women, elderly and middle-aged people. Even though the recovery is a lengthy process, athletes often prefer to undergo the surgery as it reduces the chances of further recurrence of the symptoms.
Podiatrists first try to cure it without any surgery. It involves resting the feet to reduce the strain and modification of daily activities so that minimum pressure is exerted on the affected foot. Use of right kind of footwear, night splints, ice compression, physical therapy, exercises, stretching of the tendons are some other measures taken for treatment.
When all these steps fail to show any improvement in the symptoms, doctors avail the surgical option. Basically, the surgery is done in two different ways. The common procedure is cutting off the damaged tissues by making a small incision in the heel. As a result, the tension is released from the ligament and one gets relief from the foot pain. The other process is applied in case there is a heel bone spur that puts pressure on the plantar fascia. During this surgery, after removing the damaged portions of the tissue, the heel bone spur is also eliminated.
Usually, the surgery is carried out using local anesthesia and is completed in an hour or so. The patient is sent home within a few hours of surgery. During the recovery period, one has to take good care of the operated foot.
In the first one month, the movements are restricted and the feet should be rested for maximum amount of time. Those areas which have slippery surface, like a shower stall, where the patient is at risk of falling down, should be strictly avoided.
While walking, use of crutches or walker is a must. Plantar fasciitis shoes or an air cast with adjustable straps has to be used continuously to give adequate support to the foot. The straps can be loosened from time to time to get some relief from the uneasiness felt after the surgery.
Cold compression with ice cubes is an integral part of post operative care as it helps in bringing down the inflammation in the foot. The swelling can further be relieved if the foot is kept in a raised position. Surgeons prescribe suitable painkillers to reduce the pain.
The operated foot should always be kept in a complete dry condition. While taking bath, additional care is needed for this purpose. Wash basin bathing is better in this condition. Or else, one can take a bath in a bathtub where the affected foot is kept out of the tub. In general, doctors allow the patient to wet the operated foot only after three weeks.
The patient must keep all the appointments with the doctor after the surgery. The first appointment is usually after one week when the doctor changes the dressing of the foot and examine it thoroughly for any infection. The next visit will be after completion of two weeks. In this session, the doctor will change the dressing again and apply some medicinal cream for faster healing of the wound.
Four weeks later, the doctor may let the patient resume some of the normal activities, though long hours of standing or walking is a strict no-no. One has to continue to wear the air cast for more than one month. If the condition of the foot improves, then the cast is removed after six weeks. At this stage of recovery, physical therapy is essential to normalize the foot.
The recovery time could be as long as 3 months. In the meantime, if any one starts going to work, it cannot be a full-time work. When the measures mentioned here are carefully followed, it can ensure that there is no complication due to some unwanted infection. Thus any further worsening of the condition can be prevented.