In the modern world of reality television, exaggerated media headlines and fabricated statistics, deciphering truth from deception often seems to lead to even greater confusion. This is often true with medical conditions – where you are prone to read one thing on the internet, hear something different from your workout buddy and receive a third opinion from your neighbor whose aunt suffered from the same problem.
To provide clarity on some misconceptions about plantar fasciitis (and help you avoid a Google search on the condition, which may result in a headache), I am separating fact from fiction below:
FICTION: The plantar fascia is the sole muscle that supports the bottom of the foot.
FACT: The plantar fascia is an aponeurosis, or thick band of fibrous connective tissue, that joins and stabilizes muscles to other muscles or bones.
FICTION: Plantar fasciitis only results from flat feet.
FACT: While research studies do confirm an association between foot pronation (flattening of the inner arch) and plantar fasciitis, a high arched foot is also a risk factor for development of plantar fasciitis.3
FICTION: Orthotics should be used as the first treatment for individuals with plantar fasciitis.
FACT: While use of foot orthoses (either prefabricated or custom made) for plantar fasciitis can be an effective treatment option according to current evidence, it may not be necessary as part of the initial treatment.
FICTION: Heel spurs cause plantar fasciitis.
FACT: Failure to treat plantar fasciitis may predispose heel spur development.
FICTION: Rolling a cold water bottle on the bottom of your foot is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis.
FACT: Since a variety of factors contribute to plantar fasciitis, there is not a sole best treatment strategy for all.
If you find yourself still frustrated to self-treat your heel pain, the physical therapists at Athletico can help correctly diagnose and manage the cause of your complaints.
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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Plantar fascia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantar_fascia. Edited November 17, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2020.
2. https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/plantar-aponeurosis#1. Accessed January 25, 2020.
3. Martin RL, Davenport TE, Reischal SF, et. al. Heel Pain-Plantar Fascitiis: Revision 2014. Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy. 2014;44(11):A1-A23. doi:10.2519/jospt.2014.0303.
4. Johal KS, Milner SA. Plantar fasciitis and the calcaneal heel spur: Fact or Fiction? Foot and Ankle Surgery. 2012;18(1):39-41.
It’s very interesting to learn that high arches can get plantar fasciitis as well as people with flat feet. My sister is having some issues with her feet and it’s causing her a lot of pain. She needs to find a local podiatrist that will be able to help her and offer personalized treatments.
Yes, that is true. There is not always one factor that results in plantar fasciitis. There are often limitations or weakness in the hip or knee as well or altered gait mechanics changing how and individual strikes the ground. For this reason, having a physical therapist, who can analyze the entire lower chain and identify key contributions to her symptoms, is optimal to a podiatrist who will commonly only treat the foot. Where does your sister live? If she is in a region where there is an Athletico I can assist with referring her to an appropriate clinician if you would like.