Plantar Fasciitis – A True Pain in the Foot
Plantar Fasciitis can be a nuisance when it comes to something as simple as walking. It is one of the most common culprits when it comes to heel pain.
What is the Plantar Fascia
The plantar fascia is a long, thick ligament that lies on the bottom of your foot. It connects the heel to under your toes It is important in supporting the arch of the foot taking the load when the foot bears weight.
What is Plantar Fasciitis
When the plantar fascia is healthy, it acts as a shock absorber supporting your arch. If the tension on the fascia exceeds what the fascia can handle, there can be small tears in the fascia. Repeat tearing of the fascia can lead to the fascia becoming irritated and inflamed.
Plantar Fasciitis is commonly a stabbing pain that usually occurs with each step, especially with the first step in the morning. As you move about your day, it could decrease, but then increase again if you are standing for prolonged periods of time. Usually the pain is near the heel.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis
There are different causes for plantar fasciitis but the main cause is still unknown.
Age and Weight
Plantar Fasciitis seems to occur more commonly in people when they are between the ages of 40 and 60 and if the person is overweight.
Stress on Your Heels
Exercises that place stress on your foot can increase the chances of placing extra stress on the heel. Long distance jumping, ballet, dance, and running can all be culprits of plantar fasciitis. Also working where you stand on your feet for long periods of time such as a factory worker or teacher can damage the plantar fascia. It is important to wear the proper footwear, such as plantar fasciitis heel cups, to help minimize the occurrence.
Diagnosis will be done by your physician or podiatrist. They will see if there is tenderness to the touch to try to locate the exact point of pain. This may eliminate any other issues that may be presenting itself as Plantar Fasciitis. Muscle tone in the legs may be evaluated to make sure tight legs muscles are not pulling on the plantar fascia causing irritation. An Xray or MRI may be ordered to check that nothing else is causing you this pain such as a bone spur or a bone fracture.
Treatment is mainly rest which is hard since that means limited walking and standing. Ice can be applied as needed for 15 minutes. This will help reduce any swelling and inflammation that may be present. Reducing your exercise routine or even changing exercises can lessen the pain associated with your plantar fasciitis. Your podiatrist may make special arch supports for your shoes to lessen the pressure on the point of inflammation. Stretching of the calf and foot will help loosen the fascia.
Night splints can be worn overnight to help stretch your calf and arch of your foot. It lengthens the fascia by holding your foot in a flexed position. Stretching the fascia and Achilles tendon overnight may help to alleviate the morning pain experienced.
If the above treatments don’t seem to help, your doctor may inject cortisone into the tender spot. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory steroid that can help break the inflammation cycle so the inflammation can decrease and the pain can subside.
It is important to see a physician if you are experiencing pain in your foot. They will be able to determine the cause of the pain. If the pain is left untreated, you may start to change the way your walk to ‘protect’ the sore area. Changing your gait can affect your legs, knees, hips and back.
Most people overcome plantar fasciitis without surgery. It takes time and commitment but you will be able to walk pain free again.