Sharp foot pain, aching or stiffness on the bottom of one or both heels can be a very irritating ailment. The pain is often at its worst when one wakes up in the morning (or after sitting down for an extended period and then resuming activity), which causes hobbling or limping for a few minutes before one can resume a comfortable stride. However, mild or severe pain usually persists while weight continues to be applied during walking or standing.
At our medical center in Houston, it has been observed that adults - whether office workers, laborers or athletes - develop this problem and are more prone to it than children, although children, too, may develop the weakness in their bones.
No Consensus on a Common
Cause of Foot Pain
There are more charismatic-sounding sports injuries than plantar fasciitis, like tennis elbow, runner’s knee and turf toe. But there aren’t many that are more common. The condition, characterized by stabbing pain in the heel or arch, sidelines up to 10 percent of all runners, as well as countless soccer, baseball, football and basketball players, golfers, walkers and others from both the recreational and professional ranks. The Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the quarterback Eli Manning, the Olympic marathon runner Ryan Hall and the presidential candidate Mitt Romney all have been stricken.
But while plantar fasciitis is democratic in its epidemiology, its underlying cause remains surprisingly enigmatic. In fact, the mysteries of plantar fasciitis underscore how little is understood, medically, about overuse sports injuries in general and why, as a result, they remain so insidiously difficult to treat.
Experts do agree that plantar fasciitis is, essentially, an irritation of the plantar fascia, a long, skinny rope of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, attaching the heel bone to the toes and forming your foot’s arch. When that tissue becomes irritated, you develop pain deep within the heel. The pain is usually most pronounced first thing in the morning, since the fascia tightens while you sleep.
But scientific agreement about the condition and its causes ends about there.
For many years, “most of us who treat plantar fasciitis believed that it involved chronic inflammation” of the fascia, said Dr. Terrence M. Philbin, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Westerville, Ohio, who specializes in plantar fasciitis.
It was thought that by running or otherwise repetitively pounding their heels against the ground, people strained the plantar fascia, and the body responded with a complex cascade of inflammatory biochemical processes that resulted in extra blood and fluids flowing to the injury site, as well as enhanced pain sensitivity.
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(No Consensus on a Common Cause of Foot Pain. Retrieved March 2013 from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/
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