Pau Gasol foot injury: A foot specialist offers background

Below is a Q&A with Dr. Robert Khorramian, a Santa Monica foot & ankle specialist on Pau Gasol’s tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot. Gasol will sit out when the Lakers (23-26) play Thursday against the Boston Celtics (25-23)and will instead fly to Los Angeles for an examination with team doctor Steve Lombardo and foot specialist Dr. Kenneth Jung. A timetable will be offered then.

What is plantar fasciitis?

It’s inflammation of the biggest tissue in the body. I almost call it a ligament on the bottom of the foot. It goes from your heel to the end of your toes and it’s holding your arch up. Plantar fasciitis happens if you’re aggravating the foot. I see 25 patients in my office every day. At least six to nine patients that walked through my door has plantar fasciitis. It’s a very common thing. People who are overweight get it or people who stop exercising get it. People who wear bad shoes get it. It happens a lot. It’s a very common foot injury. When it gets inflamed you need to go to a doctor to take care of it. When you don’t take care of it, it gets more and more aggravated. When you jump on it and put pressure on it and push it, it can causes a rupture.

How long does an injury take to heal?

[Gasol] said he felt something pop so that means something is ruptured. If it’s s one-thirds tear, within four to six weeks he will be okay. If it’s a two-thirds tear, it would go much higher, possibly eight to 10 weeks. He needs to stay off of it and he needs to do a lot of ultrasound, icing and he really should not walk on it. If he aggravates it, it will take even longer to heal. A complete rupture demands rigid orthotics for him to stop any kind of arthritis in the arch area.

Can a tear be smaller than 1/3?

It can be smaller than that. But he said he felt a pop. That could be close to a 2/3 tear we’re talking about, which would be eight to 10 weeks. It all depends on what the MRI shows.

What do you recommend to patients?

I recommend to patients to stay away from starch and eat more protein. That allows the healing to go through much faster. They need to be on crutches. They need to ice it. They need to stay off of the foot.

When can the tear get to the point where you advise the patient to get surgery?

When there’s over a two-thirds tear or a complete third, we advise surgery. With surgery, the healing takes much longer. That takes 12 to 14 weeks to heal. I usually say close to 14 weeks.

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