Do you really have plantar fasciitis?

Here's the text of a recent article that I published. If you're unsure whether you might really have plantar fasciitis or not, have a quick read:

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common problems that affect runners, jumpers and anyone who is on his or her feet all day. Bureau of Labor statistics say that tens of thousands of people suffer from plantar fasciitis and similar Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) every year.

Any kind of "itis" (like plantar fasciitis) actually has a medically precise meaning, which is "inflammation". Here are some quick and easy tests you can run to see whether you have plantar fasciitis, or if it's really a different condition like plantar fasciosis (the "osis" here indicates degeneration of the fascia).

1. Did your pain stem from some injury or trauma? Or did it develop slowly over time? For example, if you jumped down from something that was a little too high and then felt a sudden pain in the bottom of your foot, you may have plantar fasciitis. But if you're a runner and started noticing a slight pain that has gradually gotten worse or worse, then probably you're suffering from plantar fasciosis, not plantar fasciitis.

2. Have you "fixed" your pain once (or twice…or three times), only to have it rear its ugly head again in a few weeks or months? Inflammation is generally a short-term response to some sort of injury or infection in the body. If you get sick or hurt yourself for some reason, inflammation can help your body heal itself. But once that job is finished, the inflammation should go away. (Remember the last time you got a splinter in your finger? Once you got it out, it didn't take long for the pain to fade away, did it?)

If you have taken ibuprofin or other pain relief medication, given the problem area a rest, thought that it was healed...only to have the pain reoccur once you started back with your activity, chances are that you do not have plantar fasciitis.

3. Has the pain been there consistently for more than just a few weeks? Similar to the above point, if you suffer from long-term pain in one or the other of your plantar fascia, and especially if you have not injured or gotten an infection there, chances are pretty good that you do have plantar fasciosis rather than plantar fasciitis.

4. Is there any swelling in the area? Is it red? Hot to the touch? These are three out of the four stereotypical symptoms of inflammation, and people have known about them since at least the time of ancient Greece. If the painful area isn't hot, or red, or swollen, it's almost impossible that it could be inflamed. Once again, this means you don't have plantar fasciitis. Instead, the odds are overwhelmingly that it's plantar fasciosis, which is going to require a completely different approach to make it heal.

Of course, quite a few legitimate cases of plantar fasciitis do exist, but people (and this includes most doctors) have a tendency to confuse plantar fasciitis with plantar fasciosis. Take a few moments to think about the points raised in this article, then decide for yourself which one you have.

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