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Many runners are familiar with plantar fasciitis, but another common foot injury that runners are unaware of, but do deal with, is plantar fibroma.
Plantar fibroma is the name of a nodule, growth, triggerpoint or knot embedded in the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that is under the bottom of the foot, extending from the toes to the heel. The condition is caused when the plantar fascia tightens up.
Plantar Fibroma Symptoms
Rebecca Goldstein, physical therapist with Professional Physical Therapy, says the symptoms can include:
- Tightness on the bottom of the foot
- Pain and stiffness with walking
- Morning stiffness when taking that first step out of bed
- Calf tightness
- Pain when walking barefoot
“There are a few causes that can trigger plantar fibroma. These include tight muscles (calf and Achilles) from not stretching enough after working out or going for long walks,” explains Goldstein. “It can be caused by wearing improper foot wear (i.e. flip flops). It can also be caused by your genetics. Low arches (flat feet) cause pronation when walking and if you don’t have good arch support, then over time your plantar fascia may tighten up.”
What’s the recovery time?
A few weeks is the typical treatment time for plantar fibroma. Massaging the foot with a foam roller, tennis ball or frozen water bottle can help release tension in the foot. Stretching the foot is important too. It can lengthen the tissues and increase circulation. Physical therapy is a treatment option that breaks down the buildup of fibers and growths. Physical therapists use effective stretching with strength exercises to treat the condition.
How does it affect you?
It’s important to take time off of your foot when you experience pain. If not, you may compensate your foot strike, which can lead to other injuries: hip, knee or low-back pain. Make sure you wear the right running shoes for your foot type. Sometimes runners need orthotics to have additional arch support.
So what’s the difference between plantar fibroma and plantar fasciitis?
Remember, before you start any at-home treatment program, always speak with your doctor for proper diagnosis.