Plantar fibromatosis (PF) occurs when nodules form in the plantar fascia of the foot. Although they are initially painless, a single fibroma may grow large enough to cause pain, or the fascia may become infiltrated with multiple fibromas. There are ways to manage this discomfort in the earlier stages, and there are treatment options for late-stage PF.
Engage in PF Exercises
Exercises for PF can be especially helpful in the earlier stages when the problem has not caused significant impairment in walking. Before you begin any PF exercises, you should ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist for assistance. They can recommend a specialized exercise program for your needs and assist you to make sure you are performing the exercises correctly. Typically, the goal of PF exercises is to stretch the plantar fascia and surrounding structures to reduce the amount of stress on the area.
The fibromas and corresponding build-up of fibrous tissue causes contracting of the plantar fascia. This is what eventually causes toe deformities as PF progresses. Keeping the plantar fascia as pliable as possible will not only improve pain but also can slow the progression of the condition. A frozen bottle of water can also be used to massage and loosen the area. Use your foot to roll the bottle on the floor if doing so does not cause pain. Since the bottle is frozen, it may also help reduce pain and inflammation.
Since PF commonly occurs on the arch of your foot, it may be easy to offset pressure on this area with orthotics. If you are purchasing retail orthotics, choose ones that provide adequate arch support while having enough cushion to take some of the pressure off the fibroma. This can make walking more comfortable while giving you the appropriate arch support to avoid pain in your arches. When fibromas occur on other areas of the foot, mainly the ball of your foot or near the base of the toes, or when fibromas near your arch become large, you will need customized orthotics.
Typically, a podiatrist will recommend orthotics that are designed to safely change the weight distribution on your feet or decrease pressure on areas of your feet affected by PF. The orthotics may have special grooves or channels where your fibromas occur to prevent direct pressure on the area as you walk. The downside of using custom orthotics is that the results are likely temporary. It is difficult to alter the weight distribution on your feet without causing additional problems in the future.
Try Surgical Interventions
Surgical interventions are usually considered when PF has a significant impact on your walking and when non-surgical management has failed. As the condition progresses, it may contribute to significant deformities of the toes, which require surgery to fix. Surgery for PF requires removal of the offending fibroma. If there are multiple fibromas, your surgeon may choose to leave some in place if they do not appear to grow quickly and are not causing pain.
It is your surgeon's goal to limit surgical removal of fibromas and surrounding tissue because there is a fine line between alleviating pain and contributing to instability of the foot. Since surgical removal itself may contribute to the formation of scar tissue, further compounding the problem, the decision should not be taken lightly. Additionally, removal of fibromas is often not a permanent solution because fibromas have a tendency to return.
Although PF is a benign condition, it can cause significant pain and long-term problems with walking. It is also a difficult foot concern to eliminate since treatment options may only temporarily alleviate the problem. Identifying PF in the early stages can help you and your doctor monitor the progression and possibly prevent late-stage deformities from occurring.
See a professional such as Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC to get started with your treatment.