Financial & Legal News

Misdiagnosis and treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

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A client whose foot problems went misdiagnosed and treated for years has received a £25,000 settlement.

The woman worked as a butcher and was on her feet all day every day and was often in wellington boots.  She started to get pains in her heels and her GP advised her to manage her posture correctly and wear appropriate footwear.

Diagnosed Plantar Fasciitis

She was later diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and commenced steroid injections, but her pains continued.  She was then referred to the orthopaedic team at Tameside General Hospital.

Our client then underwent the following:

  • a series of injections
  • a foot cast
  • shockwave therapy
  • resting night splints
  • metatarsal osteotomy

Metatarsal osteotomy is a surgical procedure involving cutting the metatarsal bone of the big toe and realigning the bone to correct the deformity of a bunionette. She also underwent a series of MRI scans which revealed no abnormality.

Second opinion

Months later, her pain had not been alleviated and she was self-medicating with Co-Codamol and Ibuprofen.  Her chronic foot pain and symptoms went on and off for almost three years until she was eventually referred for a second opinion at Wrightington Hospital.

The Orthopaedic surgeon who saw her found that the operation had not healed; in fact, there was a slight fracture and the screw involved had caused complications.  He also noted no evidence of plantar fasciitis, also backed up by further MRI scans.

Breach of duty of care

During the case, it was found that Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation had breached their duty of care.  Our client had not been correctly informed of the side effects of the surgery and its potential long-term complications and as such, had not made a fully informed decision when agreeing to it.  It was found that the care she received fell below an acceptable standard.

In fact, the second opinion obtained at Wrightington Hospital diagnosed our client with Heel Fat Pad Syndrome (atrophy) not plantar fasciitis. Had a correct diagnosis been made in the first place, she would not have had to undergo all the treatments and specific orthotics could have alleviated her symptoms.

“In this case, our client had months and months of suffering and underwent unnecessary procedures to treat something she did not have in the first place,” said Jacqueline White, Solicitor and Head of Medical Negligence at Pearson Solicitors.

Heel fat pad syndrome

Fat pad atrophy is where the layer of fat that lies under the heel bone, known as the fat pad, starts to waste away due to too much strain being placed on it.

Heel fat pad syndrome symptoms include:

  • A gradual onset of a dull achy pain under the centre of the heel
  • Pain increases with activity during periods of standing or walking
  • Localised swelling that can cause discomfort when wearing footwear

How is heel fat pad syndrome treated?

  • Stay off your feet if possible and limit high-impact activities that cause heel pain.
  • Keep the area iced
  • Take medication
  • Wear orthopaedic footwear
  • Tap your heel
  • Use heel cups, shoe inserts and cushioned socks
  • Use a specific exercise program

“There is a vast difference in the treatment plans for the two conditions. Our client suffered countless treatments unnecessarily.  Fat pad atrophy can be distinguished from plantar fasciitis by the location of the pain and any reasonable treating clinician should have made this conclusion,” added Jacqueline White.

How can we help

Whilst the majority of medical treatments go well sometimes mistakes are made and clients should seek legal advice, contact our medical negligence solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or for advice.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Jacqueline White


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