If you or a loved one suffer from plantar fasciitis, you’ve probably heard an earful of surefire remedies, stories about a cousin who was cured after surgery, and a multitude of tips and tricks for relieving pain.
But what do the numbers say when it comes to plantar fasciitis?
We’ve gathered the most compelling–and often surprising–facts about plantar fasciitis from top medical journals and publications. Because when it comes to making decisions about the health of your feet, it’s critical to have the facts on your side!
Top Plantar Fasciitis Statistics
- Right around 10% of people will suffer from plantar fasciitis in their lifetime.
Takeaway: Plantar fasciitis is pretty darn common! Knowing the facts about this condition can help nip symptoms in the bud.
- A whopping 89% of plantar fasciitis sufferers experience plantar fascia softening1.
Takeaway: Catching plantar fasciitis early is one of the best ways to catch chronic pain at the pass. This makes ultrasound elastography–which can detect plantar fascia softening–an effective diagnostic tool, even in early stages of PF!
- In one study, the combination of foot orthosis and an adjustable dorsiflexion night splint resulted in a 47% decrease in pain2.
Takeaway: If just one solution for your plantar fasciitis pain isn’t working, try combining treatments with orthotics and a night splint.
- An incredible 85.72% of patients see a decrease in pain with Botulinum type A, or BTX treatments3.
Takeaway: If your symptoms from plantar fasciitis are resistant to home remedies, BTX might be a terrific option.
- In one study of 250 participants, orthoses (orthotic inserts) improved pain by 37% after a 12-week period4.
Takeaway: Don’t give up on your orthotic inserts after just a few days! Give it some time, as the best results come from trials of 12 weeks or longer.
- A breakthrough study found that after three months, custom orthoses only improved pain 11% as compared to placebo orthotics5.
Takeaway: Custom orthotics can be incredibly expensive–and might not be worth the extra money!
- Plantar fasciitis accounts for between 11-15%6 of all adult foot symptoms requiring the care of a medical professional.
Takeaway: Most cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated effectively with home remedies–however, the remaining cases can be quite stubborn, necessitating medical intervention.
- Plantar fasciitis has been reported to account for about 10%6 of injuries that occur in connection with running.
Takeaway: Running is a major culprit for plantar fasciitis injuries. Wearing proper footwear, supporting your feet with orthotics, and resting as needed is key.
- Amazingly, 90% of plantar fasciitis cases can be healed with conservative, in-home treatments.
Takeaway: Medical interventions can be costly, risky, and painful. Before jumping to medical intervention, give conservative home remedies a chance.
- Heel Seats with Fascia Bar technology are 2x as effective as Dr. Scholls.
Takeaway: Not all orthotics are created equal! Fascia Bar technology is the difference between orthotic shoe inserts that specifically target and heal plantar fasciitis, and inserts that simply provide cushioning.
- The annual cost of treatments for plantar fasciitis is estimated to be between $192 and $376 million dollars7.
Takeaway: Medical treatments can get very expensive, very quickly–especially when used as a first resort. Most cases of plantar fasciitis can be resolved at home with conservative, consistent treatment.
- Obesity is a factor in 70% of plantar fasciitis cases8.
Takeaway: In some cases, gaining weight quickly is a given (pregnancy being the most notable case!) However, in other situations it’s important, if at all possible, to maintain a healthy weight to keep healthy feet.
- In one study, heel pain was either eliminated or much improved at eight weeks in 52% of patients6 who were treated with an exercise program to stretch the plantar fascia.
Takeaway: Stretching to relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis doesn’t work immediately–but it does work in the long-term. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine for best results
- Heel Spurs are found in about 50% of plantar fasciitis cases9.
Takeaway: Contrary to common belief, heel spurs are caused by plantar fasciitis–not the other way around! Heel spurs develop in response to trauma of the plantar fascia, which can ultimately cause a great deal of pain when walking. Treating plantar fasciitis early is the key to avoiding heel spurs.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics have found that plantar fasciitis accounts for an average of one million patient visits per year.
Takeaway: The pain from plantar fasciitis drives a huge number of people to the doctor’s office annually. That’s no small matter! For many of these cases, symptoms could be resolved with at-home treatments like stretching, icing, and orthotic inserts.
- Favorable outcomes were reported in more than 75%6 of patients who underwent surgery in one study.
Takeaway: While surgery should be used as a last resort because of its expense, risks, and the down time involved, it’s a very effective last resort if needed!
- In one study, 14% of patients noticed an improvement in their plantar fasciitis symptoms simply by wearing more supportive footwear10
Takeaway: Footwear is one of the most important aspects of supporting your heel and arch! Good footwear means better impact absorption, better cushioning, and less heel movement.
- Custom orthotics cost between $200-$800 per pair–as compared to the cost of Heel Seats at $24.95 per pair.
Takeaway: Many physicians agree that custom orthotics are overprescribed and very expensive. Heel Seats are much less expensive and have been shown to be effective in 90% of users.
- The cost of plantar fasciitis surgery can reach $10,000 or more.
Takeaway: Not only is surgery incredibly expensive, it also involves a lot of physical therapy and down time–and should be a last resort.
- In one study, researchers found that 27% of cases of plantar fasciitis had been misdiagnosed.
Takeaway: If your pain isn’t going away, or if insoles and stretching make it worse, you might not have plantar fasciitis. Ligament tears and plantar fibromas are two of the leading conditions that masquerade as plantar fasciitis.
- Several studies have shown that use of night splints results in improvement for 80% of patients11. Additional studies find that night splints are especially helpful for individuals whose symptoms have been present for more than 12 months.
Takeaway: Night splints are a terrific option for speeding healing, especially if you aren’t seeing results as quickly as you hoped. Night splints can particularly help with morning pain, one of the hallmarks of plantar fasciitis.
There’s a lot to learn about plantar fasciitis–but the good news is these numbers and statistics paint a hopeful picture. The overwhelming majority of plantar fasciitis cases can be treated effectively–and without costly and painful medical intervention.
The more you know, the more effectively and confidently you can approach your treatment and pain management.
- Lee, S., Park, H. J., Kwag, H. J., Hong, H., Park, H., Lee, Y., . . . Lee, Y. (2014, September). Ultrasound elastography in the early diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. Clinical Imaging, 38(5), 715-718. doi:10.1016/j.clinimag.2012.12.004
- Lee, W. C., Wong, W. Y., Kung, E., & Leung, A. K. (2012). Effectiveness of adjustable dorsiflexion night splint in combination with accommodative foot orthosis on plantar fasciitis. The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 49(10), 1557. doi:10.1682/jrrd.2011.09.0181
- Diaz-Llopis, I. V., Rodriguez-Ruiz, C. M., Mulet-Perry, S., Mondejar-Gomez, F. J., Climent-Barbera, J. M., & Cholbi-Llobel, F. (2011). Randomized controlled study of the efficacy of the injection of botulinum toxin type A versus corticosteroids in chronic plantar fasciitis: Results at one and six months. Clinical Rehabilitation, 26(7), 594-606. doi:10.1177/0269215511426159
- Lee, S. Y., Mckeon, P., & Hertel, J. (2009). Does the use of orthoses improve self-reported pain and function measures in patients with plantar fasciitis? A meta-analysis. Physical Therapy in Sport, 10(1), 12-18. doi:10.1016/j.ptsp.2008.09.002
- Hawke, F., Burns, J., Radford, J. A., & Toit, V. D. (2008). Custom-made foot orthoses for the treatment of foot pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd006801.pub2
- Buchbinder, R. (2004). Plantar Fasciitis. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(21), 2159-2166. doi:10.1056/nejmcp032745
- Young, C. (2012). Plantar Fasciitis. Annals of Internal Medicine,156(1_Part_1). doi:10.7326/0003-4819-156-1-201201030-01001
- Rosenbaum, A. J., Dipreta, J. A., & Misener, D. (2014). Plantar Heel Pain. Medical Clinics of North America, 98(2), 339-352. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2013.10.009
- Tu, P, & Bytomski. (2011). Diagnosis of Heel Pain. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina Am Fam Physician, 84(8), 909-916.
- Wolgin, M., Cook, C., Graham, C., & Mauldin, D. (1994). Conservative Treatment of Plantar Heel Pain: Long-Term Follow-Up. Foot & Ankle International, 15(3), 97-102. doi:10.1177/107110079401500303
- Young, C., Rutherford, D., & Niedfeldt, M. (2001). Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Am Fam Physician. 63(3):467-475.