Plantar Fascia Ruptures

What is a Plantar Fascia Rupture?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that extends from your heel to your toes.  It provides stability and support to your arch.  A common cause of heel pain known as plantar fasciitis can occur when the fascia becomes inflamed.  The plantar fascia can also traumatically tear or rupture.  This can occur when jumping or falling from a height or during activities like running or basketball.  If you suffer from a plantar fascia rupture, you may hear or feel a “pop” in your arch.  You will also likely experience sharp pain with bruising and swelling in your arch and heel.

A torn plantar fascia is very painful and requires proper treatment.  Diagnosis of a plantar fascia rupture is made by a complete history and exam.  X-rays and occasionally an MRI may also be necessary.

Treatment and Recovery from a Plantar Fascia Rupture
Treatment for a torn plantar fascia begins with a period of immobilization and crutches followed by a walking boot.  Physical therapy will be initiated, and a supportive, custom orthotic will be made to decrease tension on the fascia.  Recovery can take 9-12 weeks.  Surgery is typically not required, because the fascia tends to heal well on its own.  In fact, a surgical treatment for heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis involves cutting and lengthening the tight fascia.

A ruptured plantar fascia can take several months to completely resolve.  In a 2004 study involving 18 patients with a torn plantar fascia, all patients returned to activities within 4-26 weeks with an average of 9 weeks.  The patients in this study were mostly runners, but this condition can occur in any activity with jumping or running.  If you are suffering from either acute or chronic heel pain, proper diagnosis and treatment of a plantar fascia rupture will ensure a timely return to your activities.

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