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What's the difference between plantar fasciitis and plantar fasciosis?

Plantar fasciitis vs plantar fasciosis

We all got together this morning at for coffee and discussion regarding products and conditions.  Since plantar fasciitis is such a common problem, we've been spending a few weeks on the topic.  Part of the discussion this morning focused on the differences between acute and chronic plantar fasciitis, also known as plantar fasciitis and plantar fasciosis.

The language of medicine can be confusing to many folks, but like any other language, when you break the big words down into their component parts, the language starts to make sense.  In the language of medicine, the root forms, prefixes, and suffixes all take on significant meaning.  For instance, the suffix 'itis' always refers to a condition that includes inflammation.  Think bronchitis or appendicitis.  The suffix 'osis', on the other hand, refers to a non-inflamed state of being.  Think tuberculosis or sarcoidosis.

In cases of plantar heel pain, the most common term used to describe the inflammation at the insertion of the plantar fascia is the term plantar fasciitis.  Plantar fasciitis is used to describe the acute, inflamed state.  Studies have proven that after a period of time, typically months, the inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis fades.  Tissue biopsies of the plantar fascia and surrounding soft tissue show no inflammation.  In cases of long term plantar fasciitis, the more appropriate term used to describe the condition would be plantar fasciosis.

Plantar fasciosis - treatment by a restart of the inflammatory process

There are some clinicians who believe that if you can restart the inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the plantar heel, there would be a strong likelihood that the body's own chemical and cellular properties of healing would get a second chance to correct the inflammation of the fascia.  A number of techniques are used to create or stimulate inflammation.  These techniques include needling, Topaz surgery and shock wave therapy.

Plantar fasciosis - Plantar Fasciitis Reliever

Plantar Fasciitis RelieverOne product we talked a lot about this morning is the Plantar Fasciitis Reliever.  The Reliever is a firm gel heel pad that incorporates a set of firm bars that are used to 'stimulate' the plantar fascia.  The bars can be varied and changed as needed.  In consideration of the discussion above, I see The Plantar Fasciitis Reliever as an overlooked product that actually has a bit of science behind it.  The bars are used to massage the fascia.  That massage can restart the inflammation.  And in theory, the bars act as an active, non-surgical way in which the plantar fasciosis can return to that active state of healing, plantar fasciitis.

Funny sometimes where you find the pearls in this business.


Dr. Jeffrey Oster

Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM
Medical Advisor

Updated 12/27/19

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