Plantar Fasciitis, sometimes referred to as “flip-flop disease”, is defined as a painful condition in the foot due to inflammation of the deep fascia of the sole. It has also been known to be synonymous with the terms painful heel syndrome, neuritis, and runner’s heel, to name a few. Persons affected by the condition generally experience pain from mild twinges to excruciating or stabbing sensations on the bottoms of their heel with the pain being more prominent in the morning and diminishing as the day progresses.
Plantar Fasciitis is characterized by pain and tenderness occurring under the heel, especially upon weight-bearing. The condition may start out as a minor complaint for which medical attention has not been sought. In general, the onset is gradual with no specific episode appearing to cause the pain or tenderness. In fact, the pain may even improve after taking a few steps. For this reason, many veterans (and even non-vets) don’t seek medical attention for the problem. Over time; however, the pain generally becomes more severe; worsening as time progresses with the most severe cases demonstrating pain with any weight-bearing whatsoever. While the pain generally occurs in the heel, it can radiate through the bottom of the foot toward the toes.
Although the condition is most common in runners, athletes, and those whose work in an environment that requires excessive walking or standing on hard surfaces, the rigorous activity and load conditions put upon service members increases their risk for plantar fasciitis as well. This is especially true for those in a combat environment (boots on the ground). Many of these veterans are not only subjected to prolonged walking on all types of terrains, but carrying loads in excess of 50 pounds on their backs or waists.
Studies have shown the following to be true:
- The effects of plantar fasciitis increase with age with those over 40 having a 3.4 times higher rate of developing the condition.
- Females are twice as likely as males to develop the condition.
- There was only a slight increase in the condition in the African American population versus the Caucasian population.
- Those individuals who were in the Army or Marines were a greater risk; especially those “junior” listed personnel versus senior officers.
Obtaining service connected compensation may be difficult, but not impossible. In order to be eligible, the diagnosis must be made by a qualified medical practitioner that shows evidence of the disability despite the fact that the pain may not be felt on a continuous basis. Therefore, a good patient history is extremely helpful. In addition, it is important for the veteran’s Service Medical Record to contain the necessary evidence to support the claim since the current level of impairment must be considered in the context of the whole recorded history.
For further information regarding the VA’s rating criteria, refer to Diagnostic Code 5276 of 38 CFR which is comparable to flatfoot.