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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

"How I Approach Problems": Plantar Fasciitis with Heel Pain with Swelling

    This is a new series of blog posts on various injuries entitled "How I Approach Problems". I will be going through common injuries to start and then the areas that proven more complex challenges. I hope my thought process will help you if you are treating this injury or have this injury or injured area.

     Heel Pain with Swelling: This is Not Plantar Fasciitis

The “itis” from plantar fasciitis is deep swelling and inflammation that is really hard to feel. The patient does not appreciate any swelling or fullness to the tissues. So, when a patient presents with heel pain, with or without the previous diagnosis being plantar fasciitis, and there is obvious swelling in the tissues, the injury is not plantar fasciitis. From my last post, here is how I summarized Acute heel pain (pain that comes on quickly). 

With an acute (sudden) onset of pain, and swelling in the heel, the 2 common diagnoses are:
  1. Plantar Fascial Tears
  2. Heel (Calcaneal) Stress Fractures
With the acute (sudden) onset of pain, without noticeable swelling in the heel, the 2 common diagnoses are:
  1. Heel Bursitis (only deep palpation away from the plantar fascia finds a painful bursal sac)
  2. Heel Neuritis (this can cause heel rim pain or radiating pain or other neuropathic symptoms
Therefore, an acute onset of heel pain, with the presence of swelling is either a Stage 2-3 plantar fascial injury or a boney injury to the heel (commonly a stress fracture). MRI is the image of choice, and even though the treatment is 3 months of immobilization for both, it is different thought process in treatment when the injury is fascial or bone. 

With fascial injuries, you made need to use plantar fascial treatments of taping, orthotic devices, and physical therapy after the period of immobilization.

With calcaneal heel bone injuries, you have to think about bone stimulators, overall bone health, bone density testing, Vit D, and the extent of the fracture up into the vulnerable subtalar joint. 

My next post I will discuss the protocol of plantar fascial stage 2 or 3 injuries, also known as partial or complete tears. 

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.