Plantar fasciitis is a poorly understood condition. There is little consensus among medical professionals about what causes the problem, and no treatments have been reliably proven to treat it. A
number of theories exists for why plantar fasciitis develops, but the ineffectiveness of conventional treatments suggests something is missing. The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that
runs along the underside of the foot from the heel to the toes. The fascia helps maintain the integrity of the arch, provides shock absorption, and plays an important role in the normal mechanical
function of the foot.
Because the plantar fascia supports your foot and gets used every time you take a step, it has to absorb a large amount of stress and weight. If too much pressure is put on the plantar fascia, the
fibers can become damaged or start to tear. The body responds by causing inflammation in the affected area. This is what causes the pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis. Things that can increase
the risk of plantar fasciitis include tight calf muscles. Tight calves make it harder to flex your foot, and this puts more stress on the plantar fascia. Weight. Carrying a few extra pounds puts
added pressure on your feet every time you take a step. Activities that put a lot of stress on the feet. This includes things like running, hiking, dancing, and aerobics. Bad shoes. Footwear that
doesn't give your foot the support it needs increases your risk of plantar fasciitis. You'll want to ditch any shoes that have thin soles or inadequate arch support, or ones that don't fit your feet
properly. Routinely wearing high heels can also cause your Achilles tendon to contract over time, making it harder to flex your foot. Jobs that involve a lot of standing or walking on hard surfaces.
Jobs that keep you on your feet all day, like waiting tables or working in a store, can cause damage to your plantar fascia. High arches, flat feet, or other foot problems. The shape of your foot can
affect the way your weight is distributed on your feet when you stand. If weight distribution is a bit off, it can add to a person's risk of plantar fasciitis. How someone walks can increase the
stress on certain parts of the foot too.
Most patients with plantar fasciitis describe a sharp or stabbing pain on the bottom of the heel that is most severe when they first get up in the morning or after a period of resting. Some may feel
like the heel is bruised while others may describe tightness or even a pulling sensation on the heel or arch.
After you describe your symptoms and discuss your concerns, your doctor will examine your foot. Your doctor will look for these signs. A high arch, an area of maximum tenderness on the bottom of your
foot, just in front of your heel bone. Pain that gets worse when you flex your foot and the doctor pushes on the plantar fascia. The pain improves when you point your toes down. Limited "up" motion
of your ankle. Your doctor may order imaging tests to help make sure your heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis and not another problem. X-rays provide clear images of bones. They are useful in
ruling out other causes of heel pain, such as fractures or arthritis. Heel spurs can be seen on an x-ray. Other imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound, are not
routinely used to diagnose plantar fasciitis. They are rarely ordered. An MRI scan may be used if the heel pain is not relieved by initial treatment methods.
Non Surgical Treatment
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include. Apply ice or a cold pack to the heel and arch for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a
towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. A special splint that will hold your foot in a neutral position while sleeping. Special shoe inserts that support the mid-arch region of your foot.
Inserts that are not customized may work just as well as those that are customized. Activity. Avoid running and other activities that may worsen pain. Begin stretching exercises to lengthen the
Achilles tendon and plantar fascia as recommended by your doctor. This is usually done when pain has lessened or improved. To help manage pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Prescription pain relievers may also be required. Steroid injections may be used in some cases or if other treatment is not
working. A special type of sound wave called extracorporeal shock wave may also be considered in certain cases. This treatment happens under the care of your doctor. At this time, this is generally a
treatment for long-term cases that do not respond to other treatments. Massage therapy or accupuncture may also be effective for long-term cases. In a few cases, basic treatments don't help. Surgery
may be performed to cut the tight, swollen fascia.
Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to non-surgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of non-surgical treatment, you continue
to have heel pain, surgery will be considered. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial for you. No matter what
kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Therefore, you will need to continue with preventive measures. Wearing supportive
shoes, stretching, and using custom orthotic devices are the mainstay of long-term treatment for plantar fasciitis.