Workers’ Compensation Regarding Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an injury to the foot that can result in sharp, stabbing pain near the heel. It occurs when tears develop in the fascia, which is the soft tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toe. About 10 percent of the people in the U.S. suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Workers who spend most of their day walking or standing on hard surfaces have a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis, particularly if their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or greater. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis and you are a construction worker, teacher, factory worker, a clerk working long shifts at a cash register, or if you are in any other occupation that requires prolonged standing or walking, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Does Plantar Fasciitis Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Plantar fasciitis is categorized as a repetitive strain injury. Different types of repetitive strain injuries have qualified for workers’ compensation, including plantar fasciitis, as well as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
As with all workers’ compensation claims, you must first receive a medical diagnosis confirming your injury before determining if you are eligible. Your first step is to describe your symptoms to a physician. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include the following:
- Stabbing heel pain that is worse when you first get out of bed or stand up after you have been sitting for a long time
- Numbness, tingling, or swelling in the bottom of your foot
- Chronic heel pain that prevents you from participating in your regular activities
- Limping or changing the way you walk to minimize heel pain
Factors other than your working environment may make you prone to developing plantar fasciitis, including the following:
- Fallen arches or flat feet
- Your age is between 40 and 60
- You are a runner or engage in strenuous sports
Your workers’ compensation claim may be denied if you have characteristics such as these that make it more difficult to prove that your condition is a direct result of work. However, in Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation will cover pre-existing conditions, such as plantar fasciitis or asthma if the condition is shown to be further aggravated by the working environment.
To determine whether your plantar fasciitis qualifies for workers’ compensation, contact an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer with a deep understanding of workers’ compensation laws. The purpose of workers’ compensation coverage is to cover costs that arise when employees suffer work-related disabilities that prevent them from doing their job.
How is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?
A physician can diagnose plantar fasciitis by performing an in-office physical exam to look for tenderness and pain in the foot and to test the flexibility of the foot muscles and Achilles tendon. X-rays and MRIs are typically not necessary.
Several types of doctors are qualified to diagnose plantar fasciitis. A visit to a general practitioner may be your first step, however, your primary doctor may refer to you a specialist to confirm your diagnosis. Specialists qualified to treat foot injuries include the following:
- Podiatrist: A podiatrist is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine who is licensed to treat medical conditions of the foot. They do not attend traditional medical school but rather a four-year podiatry school. There are nine accredited podiatry schools in the United States.
- Orthopedic specialist: An orthopedic specialist is a medical doctor who has additional medical training in the treatment of bones, joints, muscles, and body tissue.
- Orthopedic surgeon: An orthopedic surgeon is an orthopedic specialist who is qualified to perform surgery.
- Sports medicine doctor: Sports medicine doctors are either primary care physicians or orthopedic specialists who focus on injuries sustained by athletes.
Do I Have a Choice Regarding Doctors?
If you are seeking workers’ compensation coverage for your plantar fasciitis, you must first choose from the list of designated health care providers provided by your employer, if you are employed in the state of Pennsylvania. However, you may choose your own doctor if any of the following is true:
- Your employer has not posted a list of at least six health care providers within a reasonable geographic distance
- Your employer did not give you written notice with the list of providers
- Your injury requires treatment by a specialist and the specialty is not on the list.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania, once you have recognized that you are suffering from plantar fasciitis and you are convinced that the requirements of your job have either caused or significantly aggravated your condition, you must seek treatment within 90 days. If your employer posted a list of health care providers, you may need to visit a primary care physician on the designated list first and see if that doctor is able to diagnose and treat your condition. If the doctor refers you to a specialist not on the list, you should be able to visit that specialist and still be covered. However, at this point, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer for advice to ensure that your visit will be covered.
What Type of Benefits are Available for Plantar Fasciitis Injuries?
The types of workers’ compensation benefits that are available will depend on the classification of your disability. In Pennsylvania, disabilities may be classified as temporary/total, permanent/total, permanent/partial, or disfigurement/special loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis is typically a temporary condition that can often be treated with rest, pain medication, physical therapy, and wearing night splints and/or arch supports in your shoes. If these measures do not work, a doctor may recommend a steroid injection or surgery. However, most cases are treated within a few months and less than five percent of patients require surgery.
If your medical diagnosis indicates temporary total disability, you may be eligible for some compensation for lost wages during the time you are not able to go back to work. It is best to seek the counsel of an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer to determine if you have a valid claim and the amount of compensation that you can expect to receive.
Other Types of Foot Injuries for Workers
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), foot injuries are among the most common types of workers’ compensation injury claims. Frequently seen foot injuries include:
- Crushed or broken feet
- Puncture wounds to the sole due to nails or broken glass
- Cuts from chain saws, motors, or unguarded machinery
- Sprains or broken ankles due to slippery walkways and floors
- Burns or electric shock
In many cases, the use of proper footwear may have either prevented the injury or made it less severe.
Why You Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you must miss work because of a painful medical condition, such as plantar fasciitis, you may face mounting medical bills, as well as lost wages. It is not always easy to prove that injuries are work-related and are therefore eligible for workers’ compensation. If you are unable to work, you need a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you prove that your condition is work-related and guide you through the process of filling a successful claim. A workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you in properly documenting your condition to build a stronger case for your claim.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis and Other Foot Injuries
Mild cases of plantar fasciitis may be treated by rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). This is a simple technique that can be done at home. In addition, stretching exercises and slip-on orthotics may help as well. If your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher, losing weight may reduce the severity of plantar fasciitis. With all foot injuries, proper footwear is essential to healing. The type of support you need may depend on the pronation of your foot, which is the inward motion of your foot when it hits the ground as you run or walk.
If you are attempting to treat your injury on your own and your foot is not getting better, do not delay in seeking medical treatment. Also, if you have already been diagnosed with an injury and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you must make sure to keep all medical appointments and follow all doctor’s instructions or you may jeopardize continuation of your coverage.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Workers Suffering from Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that is often aggravated by prolonged standing or walking. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis and your job requires you to stand or walk for many hours at a time, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. To find out if you qualify, speak with a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. today. Contact us by phone at 888-PITT-LAW or fill out our contact form for a free consultation today.
Located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.