What is it: Plantar Fasciitis is a very common foot problem that can cause mild to severe pain in a persons’ heel, arch or ball of one or both feet. The plantar fascia is a superficial band that runs from your heel bone (calcaneus) and extends out to attach to the bones at the ball of the foot (metatarsal phalangeal joints). This band is very important in the support structure of everyone’s foot. It helps keep all the bones in your foot aligned and stacked on top of each other to create the stable arch on the inside of the foot (medial longitudinal arch) and a ridged leaver for efficient toe-off when walking/ running. When this band of plantar fascia is stress or over worked we can experience discomfort along the bottom of the foot due to micro tearing of this fascia.
Symptoms: Usually people will experience severe morning pain; the first few steps out of bed are excruciating and will slowly get better during the morning hours. Sitting for long periods of time, and then standing up again can cause extreme pain as well. This is due to the fact that the body is attempting to heal the micro tearing that has occurred and when a person stands back up the damage occurs again- which can be very painful.
Cause: There are many things that may cause plantar fasciitis. Flat feet can over stretch the band, as the arch is collapsing and causing strain on the band. Very high arches can cause strain on the band as it is over working. Wearing inappropriate shoes or very ridged shoes can cause your foot to be functioning differently, therefore putting excessive strain on the bottom of the foot.
Treatments: There are many treatments for plantar fasciitis. The most conservative treatments are icing, stretching, exercises and anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by your Chiropodist (foot specialist). The combination of these therapies will help break up scar tissue decrease inflammation and let the foot begin to heal. Changing footwear is essential, as a poor fitting shoe can encourage plantar fasciitis to occur again, or get worse. Therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound, and laser therapy have been effective in short term management plans. Orthotic therapy is the long-term treatment plan for most patients. Custom foot inserts will be designed for you by a Chiropodist, and will support all the structures of your foot and re-align the entire body. Most people respond very well to conservative treatment plans, however, there are some people who may need to try corticosteroid injections into the plantar fascia to assist in decreasing inflammation and decreasing pain.
Don’t let plantar fasciitis stop you from enjoying your life. There are many easy and effective treatment options that can be designed for you, which will keep your feet feeling happy and healthy.