Can Peyton Manning return to the line-up in 2 weeks or is a quick recovery just a fantasy?

Even newly minted Brock Osweiler fans want to know if and when Peyton Manning will step on the field again. And when a legendary quarterback suffers from plantar fasciitis, the hard-to-pronounce medical condition quickly becomes a hot topic. Bronco fans and fantasy team players everywhere have likely Googled plantar fasciitis more than game day weather conditions in recent weeks! But what is plantar fasciitis and how quickly can Manning – let alone the average person – recover from it?

Plantar fasciitis is pain and inflammation on the bottom of your foot, known as the fascia, which is the band that runs from your heel to your toes. The plantar fascia is your foot’s built-in shock absorber – a key asset in walking, running, planting and evading 300-pound linemen. When the plantar fascia is strained, stretched, or torn, mobility and function suffers, and any significant foot pressure (e.g. forcefully planting your foot before throwing a football) causes great pain.

Fantasy football fans everywhere want to know how severe Peyton Manning’s injury is and when they can expect to see him back in the line-up. So what do we know about the severity of Manning’s injury? First, we know that the injury has been nagging Manning for several months and has gotten worse. Second, the team has reported that he has sought and received multiple medical opinions and diagnoses. We also know that Manning’s tear is partial and located at the heel of the fascia. Unfortunately, partial tears tend to be more painful than complete tears. Finally, we know that Manning has had his left foot casted to aid in the recovery process.

As a foot and ankle specialist, I know that returning to professional level of activity after a plantar fascia tear can take as much as 6-8 weeks depending on the severity of the injury and if there are additional factors contributing to the injury. For example, if there has been a long-standing tightness of the Achilles and or a chronic thickening of the fascia, the injury may linger for a prolonged period of time.

Most plantar fasciitis is treated with immobilization, medications and therapy; however, more advanced cases can require corrective surgery. Soft tissue injuries, like plantar fasciitis, take a minimum of three weeks just to heal. To perform at a professional level, physical therapy and rehab will be needed to get back on the field, which typically takes at least six weeks.

In Manning’s case, you can be sure they are considering every possible solution, potentially including using new therapies such as amnion stem cell-type injections or platelet rich plasma. These are new treatments that show some excellent promise but the long-term results data is not available yet.

Some pundits forecast a Manning return in as little as two weeks, while others today are saying that he will not rush back to the field any time soon. So fantasy fans, is two more weeks really possible? Possible yes. Likely, no. It really takes three to nine months for a plantar fascia tear to completely heal. However, each tear – like each body – is unique.

Casting the foot and limiting activities, which Manning has done, will certainly optimize healing time. Progress can usually be identified in the first several weeks of treatment – and its been reported that Manning will be ditching his walking cast any day now – which could be a positive indication. But the bottom line is that, despite Manning’s hard work, grit and competitive commitment, a return by mid December, while not impossible, is very aggressive.

Do you have plantar fasciitis? Visit one of our foot and ankle specialists to confirm a diagnosis and determine the right treatment for your situation.