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a "self-limiting condition"??

Posted by charlotte on 9/01/03 at 00:30 (128480)

hi everyone,

I've read in a number of places that PF is a 'self-limiting condition'. Does that mean that it will eventually go away by itself? Even if you don't treat it? And are there any cases of PF that don't ever end?

cheers :)

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Suzanne D on 9/01/03 at 08:42 (128483)

Hi, Charlotte! My first impression is that 'self-limiting condition' might mean that one must set limits on one's activities - and that the patient is the one who really knows his/her limits.

At least it has been that way for me and others whose experiences I have read. Many people advise to 'listen to your feet', simply meaning that you soon can tell what activities make your feet hurt worse, and you try to avoid them, or limit them. And, counterwise, you begin to tell what HELPS, and you continue those treatments.

It is risky, in my opinion, to do nothing and hope that PF resolves itself. Too many people have shared here about trying to work through the pain and keep going, only to find their condition becoming chronic and lasting years - and also get worse as time goes on.

If you have PF, I urge you to read The Heel Pain Book (just click on the blue words) and begin doing conservative treatments.

Best wishes!
Suzanne :)

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Andrue on 9/01/03 at 11:16 (128494)

I believe that 'self limiting' means that there is some mechanism that prevents the condition getting out of control. In the case of PF the pain is probably assumed to limit the amount of damage that the feet will sustain.

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Lori W. on 9/01/03 at 18:26 (128515)

My daughter had a problem with her ankle, probably from playing soccer. We took her to 2 specialists and after many tests, both had the same response. It was a 'self limiting' condition. I took that to mean that she did not have a medical problems and, while, she might have some pain, the condition was nothing to be concerned with. It was up to her what she did with it. So, when you read that PF is a 'self limiting' condition, it gives me concern. Because it is a real medical condition and can get worse and severely chronic. I am not limiting my activities because of the PF--the PF is limiting my activities. That sort of attitude concerns me. Last year there was an article in my local paper and the pod they talked to said that most people with PF were overweight and if they just lost weight, they'd be fine. That kind of cavalier attitude shows a huge misunderstanding of the problem and an obvious lack of interest in solving it.

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Andrue on 9/02/03 at 03:28 (128532)

I should add that I don't regard 'self limiting' as meaning 'self healing'. I just take it to mean that the condition will reach a point and get no worse. Some practitioners could perhaps use this as an excuse not to treat since they could argue that you won't destroy your feet but more likely they'd use it to argue in favour of conservative treatment. In affect they are just saying that PF rarely escalates out of control and so does not require emergency treatment.

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Sharon W on 9/02/03 at 08:22 (128537)


I agree with you. I do not consider plantar fasciitis (PF) to be a 'self-limiting condition', although I do understand the concept that if a person is in enough pain they will (probably) stay off their foot more, and if they stay off their foot more they will (probably) get better.

The literature on plantar fasciitis (PF) does say that many people who develop a mild case of it may get better without any treatment at all. For those who do go to a doctor and get treatment for their PF, 90% will get better with conservative treatments like anti-inflammatory medications, ice, taping (see The Heel Pain Book), stretching (see Julie's yoga stretches), arch supports, prescription shoe inserts (orthotics), and/or steroid injections.

It is hard to say which of these treatments is most effective, and hard to say whether it was the treatments that were effective, or simply RESTING your foot any staying off of it as much as possible (that's the 'self-limiting' concept).

But NOT everyone with plantar fasciitis gets better if they just 'wait it out'. Some people who developed PF have ended up with CHRONIC plantar fasciitis that has already lasted for years and years and, unfortunately, will probably last for many more. Chronic PF is usually TREATABLE -- there are things that can make it better, and allow people who have it to live more normal lives -- but it never really goes away and there are things that a person with chronic PF simply cannot DO, or they risk a return to very intense foot pain.


Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Ed Davis,DPM on 9/02/03 at 14:48 (128573)


It is important to distinguish acute plantar fasciitis which is basically a sprain of the plantar fascia from chronic plantar fasciitis which is the entity under discussion here.

The consequences of not taking action on plantar fasciitis includes the development of recalcitrant plantar fasciitis which is what the majority of posters on this board and site have.

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

francesc on 9/02/03 at 17:46 (128598)

what is the definition of 'chronic' PF? i asked a physical therapist once and he said, 'if you feel pain with every step you take and if you feel pain when you're not on your feet.'


Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Ed Davis,DPM on 9/02/03 at 21:20 (128628)


There isn't a hard and fast rule to separate acute from chronic PF.
Generally acute PF comes on with trauma or overuse and gradually gets better over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. Chronic PF has an insidious onset, coming and going but gradually getting worse over time. It may be related to occupational considerations, feeling worse the day after long hours of standing. It generally is not painful when you are not on your feet. It often feels worse after rest or sleep, taking the first few steps.

Re: a "self-limiting condition"??

Kathy G on 9/03/03 at 08:53 (128669)


For every rule, there's an exception. My PF, by and large, is not worse after I've rested for a while or upon my first step of the day. It gets worse as the day, and my activity, goes on. So, Ed's right when he says that there's no hard and fast rule. I've had it for eight years now. (Yikes, I first typed eighty - it must be Freudian, it just seems that way some days!) So I definitely fall into the chronic category.

Sometimes I do more than I should, knowing full well that down the line, I will pay for it. You reach a certain point where you say, to heck with it. I'll do more than I should because if I don't, my whole body will just atrophy, not to mention what it does to my psyche. When you reach that point, you know it's chronic!