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Podiatry in Sports: Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard suffering from plantar fasciitis

Damian Lillard will sit out a regular season game for the first time in his professional career on Monday, as the Portland Trail Blazers point guard will be sidelined against the Atlanta Hawks due to plantar fasciitis.

Lillard, who had suited up for the first 275 games of his career before being ruled out of Monday’s contest in Atlanta, aggravated the injury during the third quarter of Sunday’s 116-109 defeat in Miami.

“Before today it was a little bit sore … and in the game I think I aggravated it a little bit … it got a little tight, a little sore,” said Lillard, who leads the Blazers in scoring (24.6 points per game) and assists (6.8).

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that involves swelling and irritation of the thick connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot from the heel toward the bones in the mid foot. When that tissue is inflamed due to overuse or small tears, the result can often be agonizingly painful.

At Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric surgeon and physician with over 30 years of experience, deals with patients suffering from injuries to the plantar fascia on a regular basis and believes that continued rest is the only way that Lillard will be able to make a full recovery.

“Every time he stepping down at heel strike and moving down from side to side, he’s on the actual muscle, and he’s tearing it,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “In order to get the best results, you have to stop all activity.”

As far as additional treatment methods, Dr. Goldbuam notes that a custom-made orthotic shoe insert will play a large role in both Lillard’s recovery process and keeping him healthy upon his return.

“A very good, supportive shoe will reposition the weight off of his plantar fascia,” said Dr. Goldbaum, who regularly crafts custom-made orthotics at his office in Delary Beach. “It will also help provide proper shock absorption at heel strike and keep his neutral subtalar joint in position so that his foot is in biomechanical correctness.

“It’s all about balancing out the lower extremities so that he’s not putting abnormal pressures or changes onto the plantar fascia.”

As for how long Lillard will be out, it’s hard to say without knowing the severity of the injury. In some cases, the injury can be managed and players are able to simply play through the pain until the offseason arrives. For the vast majority of players, however, the constant pain eventually takes its toll and they are forced to shutdown all physical activity for an extended period of time.

In the case of Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah, who sat out 12 of the final 15 games of the 2012-13 regular season in attempt to ease the pain of his plantar fasciitis in preparation for the playoffs, the pain was often unbearable.

“It really sucks. Plantar fasciitis sucks,” Noah told NBC Chicago at the time. “It feels like you have needles underneath your foot while you’re playing. That’s what it feels like. You can imagine how hard it is when you need to run or you need to jump; all the things you have to do when playing basketball. I mean, you don’t want needles in your feet, right?”

As painful as it may be for the Trail Blazers to endure life without Lillard, the decision to respect the healing process is likely the only way to keep him pain-free for the remainder of the season and could pay off in the long run.

“Would like to be out there with my team,” Lillard told The Oregonian/OregonLive Monday via text message. “But I’d rather get it under control than be a tough guy.”

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472




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