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What Happens if Plantar Fasciitis is Left Untreated?

Female heel pain

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick, dense band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

When you step down, the plantar fascia stretches, and the arch flattens to cushion the impact every time your heel hits the ground. Since the fascia is thick and tough and not flexible, repetitively stretching it on impact can cause small tears and ruptures in the fascia.

Signs of Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common signs of plantar fasciitis is heel pain, but other signs and symptoms include:

  • Shooting heel pain upon standing when you first get up in the morning, but the pain typically eases throughout the day
  • Pain can come back if you stand for long periods of time
  • Pain returns when you stand after long periods of resting or sitting
  • Pain along the bottom of your foot results when you extend your toes
  • Swelling in the heel

How is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?

An orthopedic foot and ankle specialist can determine if you have plantar fasciitis by talking to you about your symptoms. Stabbing heel pain is the main symptom of plantar fasciitis. If your heel pain doesn’t subside after a few weeks, it's a good idea to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.

Your orthopedist will examine your foot to make sure it’s not something else causing your pain. Your doctor may use X-rays and other tests to rule out a foot fracture or other heel pain causes.

What if Plantar Fasciitis is Left Untreated?

The following can occur if left untreated:

Heel spurs: Heel spurs are one of the most common outgrowths of untreated plantar fasciitis. It’s a common body response to generate calcium deposits to protect the arch of your foot against damage. Gradually, the calcium deposits can accumulate into sharp growths that jab the fatty part of the heel, causing stabbing pains each time you step. Heel spurs can often be prevented if heel pain from plantar fasciitis is treated early.
Plantar rupture: Plantar rupture can happen if plantar fasciitis is not treated and you continue to place heavy impacts on the plantar fascia. High impact activities include running, sports, or standing for long periods of time in shoes that don’t fit well.

You may have developed a plantar fascia rupture if you hear a loud popping sound, then experience intense pain, swelling, and bruising in the foot. It’s also painful to put weight on the affected foot. Seek medical help immediately if you think you have a plantar rupture. You may need to wear a boot or stay off your feet for a period of time after a ruptured plantar fascia.

Plantar fibromatosis: Plantar fibromatosis develops when non-cancerous nodules grow slowly along the plantar fascia. Then, they suddenly grow rapidly. As these nodules continue to grow, it becomes painful or uncomfortable to walk. Some research suggests untreated tears in the fascia can trigger plantar fibromatosis.

Allowing plantar fasciitis to go untreated can cause secondary problems that can be prevented. If you suspect plantar fasciitis, make an appointment today with one of our NY Orthopedics locations in New York City. Our “Centers of Excellence” offer top-level orthopedic treatment for feet and other joints, all in one location.

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