Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition causing heel pain and many people with the condition also have heel spurs. It affects the band of tissue (plantar fascia) that supports the middle part of the
foot and runs along the sole of the foot from the heel to the ball of the foot. Usually the plantar fascia is strong and flexible but due to certain factors it can become irritated and inflamed where
the plantar fascia joins the bone in the foot. Heel spurs occur when there's constant pulling of the fascia at the heel bone. This leads to a bony growth or spur. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis
are pain in the arch of the foot or heel. This pain is usually worse in the morning after rest when the plantar fascia tightens and shortens. Heel spurs cause a stabbing pain at the bottom or front
of the heel bone.
Repeated small injuries to the fascia (with or without inflammation) are thought to be the cause of plantar fasciitis. The injury is usually near to where the plantar fascia attaches to your heel
bone. You are more likely to injure your plantar fascia in certain situations. For example, if you are on your feet for a lot of the time, or if you do lots of walking, running, standing, etc, when
you are not used to it. (Plantar fasciitis may be confused with 'Policeman's heel', but they are different. Policeman's heel is plantar calcaneal bursitis - inflammation of the sack of fluid (bursa)
under the heel bone. This is not as common as plantar fasciitis.) Also, people with a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to plantar fasciitis. If you have recently started exercising on a different
surface, for example, running on the road instead of a track. If you have been wearing shoes with poor cushioning or poor arch support. If you are overweight this will put extra strain on your heel.
If there is overuse or sudden stretching of your sole. For example, athletes who increase running intensity or distance; poor technique starting 'off the blocks', etc. If you have a tight Achilles
tendon (the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia. Often there is no
apparent cause for plantar fasciitis, particularly in older people. A common wrong belief is that the pain is due to a bony growth or 'spur' coming from the heel bone (calcaneum). Many people have a
bony spur of the heel bone but not everyone with this gets plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis which usually occurs on one foot at a time typically develops slowly. Some cases can be sudden and severe. If you suspect that you have plantar fasciitis, you should feel a sharp,
stabbing heel pain, usually in the inside bottom part of the heel. The pain will likely be worse when you take the first steps after long periods of rest (especially after sleep). The pain may also
worsen as you stand, climb stairs, or tiptoe. You typically will not feel a lot of pain during exercise, but will feel the ache after. In some cases, the affected heel may even swell.
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your plantar fasciitis they will investigate
WHY you are likely to be predisposed to plantar fasciitis and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays may show calcification within the plantar fascia or at its
insertion into the calcaneus, which is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or calcification. Pathology tests
(including screening for HLA B27 antigen) may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Although there is no single cure, many treatments can be used to ease pain. In order to treat it effectively for the long-term, the cause of the condition must be corrected as well as treating the
symptoms. Rest until it is not painful. It can be very difficult to rest the foot as most people will be on their feet during the day for work. A plantar fasciitis taping technique can help support
the foot relieving pain and helping it rest. Plantar fasciitis tapingApply ice or cold therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation. Cold therapy can be applied for 10 minutes every hour if the
injury is particularly painful for the first 24 to 48 hours. This can be reduced to 3 times a day as symptoms ease. Plantar fasciitis exercises can be done if pain allows, in particular stretching
the fascia is an important part of treatment and prevention. Simply reducing pain and inflammation alone is unlikely to result in long term recovery. The fascia tightens up making the origin at the
heel more susceptible to stress. Plantar fasciitis night splint. Plantar fasciitis night splint is an excellent product which is worn overnight and gently stretches the calf muscles preventing it
from tightening up overnight.
Surgery may be considered in very difficult cases. Surgery is usually only advised if your pain has not eased after 12 months despite other treatments. The operation involves separating your plantar
fascia from where it connects to the bone; this is called a plantar fascia release. It may also involve removal of a spur on the calcaneum if one is present. Surgery is not always successful. It can
cause complications in some people so it should be considered as a last resort. Complications may include infection, increased pain, injury to nearby nerves, or rupture of the plantar fascia.