Plantar Fascia: A Common Basketball Foot Injury
My heel bothers me when I play basketball, and it really hurts when I wake up in the morning and stand up after rest. Is this some type of bruise, or is it a more serious injury?
Dr. Simon Lee:
It sounds like you have a textbook case of what is called Plantar Faciitis. This condition occurs when the long, flat ligament at the bottom of the foot (Plantar Fascia) is stretched and develops small tears, causing inflammation and pain. The condition starts out gradually, and the pain is typically worse when taking the first steps after a long period of inactivity. The pain is often a sharp, stabbing sensation.
Plantar Faciitis is a very common condition, affecting well over one million Americans each year. It's an especially common injury with runners, tennis players, dancers, and basketball players. The repetitive nature of these activities—combined with running, jumping, and other explosive movements that cause increased foot demands—are especially hard on the Plantar Fascia ligament. If the activity causing the pain is not modified, the condition will likely worsen.
The good news is that Plantar Faciitis typically responds well to conventional treatment. Since individuals with Plantar Faciitis often have either flat or high arched feet, many patients experience significant improvement with the use of arch supports and/or better athletic shoes. Often times a focused exam will reveal significant tightness in the Achilles and hamstring tendon and muscles. As a result, massage, stretching, and weight loss are other good, conservative treatment options.
In some extreme cases, Plantar Fascia Release surgery is required. This procedure involves cutting part of the Plantar Fascia ligament to release tension and relieve inflammation of the ligament. In addition, an experienced physician should be consulted to evaluate and rule out a nerve compression related to the Plantar Fascia before surgery is considered.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the professional advice of your physician, nor to be a complete description of every aspect of a condition, nor a complete list of possible side effects of any medication. Decisions concerning your treatment should be based on your own health care provider's evaluation of your personal health history and current condition. Consult your physician before following any of the suggestions on this Web site. All articles on this Web site represent the personal opinions of the individual authors and should not be construed as official policy of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.