Plantar Fasciitis: An Overview and More

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The plantar fascia is a thick, dense tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated, resulting in a sharp or dull pain in the lower part of the heel. This can be due to a number of reasons, from carrying excess weight to wearing uncomfortable shoes. Although treatment is usually fairly straightforward, plantar fasciitis pain can be quite severe.

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Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis are:

  • Sharp or dull pain in the bottom of the foot, directly on or near the heel .
  • Pain that is most severe in the morning, especially when you first get up.
  • Pain that worsens after prolonged exertion.
  • Pain that goes away after rest.
  • Swelling and / or stiffness in the heel

Causes

When a person has plantar fasciitis, the connective tissue that forms the arch of the foot becomes inflamed. As loading continues on the inflamed plantar fascia, microcracks develop, which can eventually lead to the development of an overgrowth of bone called a heel spur .

Although it is not uncommon for people with plantar fasciitis to have a heel spur (seen on an X-ray), keep in mind that a heel spur is not the source of pain. In fact, many people with heel spurs do not feel any pain .

Several factors are believed to increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Some of these factors include:

  • Excessive training or exercise, especially walking or running
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Long standing
  • Recent activity change
  • Tension of the calf muscles or Achilles tendon
  • Inappropriate footwear
  • Flatfoot
  • Very high arches

Diagnostics

The diagnosis of plantar fasciitis requires a medical history and physical examination. During the history taking, your healthcare provider will ask where your pain is and if it is worse in the morning and / or when you are on your feet for a long time.

Next, your healthcare provider will look for pain in the plantar fascia. While holding your foot, you will bend your toes toward the lower leg and then press down on the plantar fascia from the heel to the front of the foot.

Blood tests and imaging are not used to diagnose plantar fasciitis, although they can be helpful in ruling out other possible diagnoses of heel pain, such as:

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Plantar fasciitis treatment begins with these simple self-care steps:

Rest

Resting your feet is perhaps the most important step you can take to relieve pain associated with plantar fasciitis. This means avoiding bothersome activities, such as those that put unnecessary strain on your leg (such as running, jumping, dancing, or walking barefoot).

Apply ice

Applying a cold pack or ice pack to the back of the foot for 15-minute sessions several times a day can relieve pain and swelling. Make sure to wrap the ice pack in a thin towel so it doesn't come in contact with your skin.

You may also consider using an ice bottle massage , which is a method of applying ice to the foot while massaging the plantar fascia.

Stretching exercises

Gently stretching the plantar fascia, as well as the foot and ankle muscles, can improve the flexibility and mobility of the foot and promote the healing of irritated fascia .

Exercises to strengthen the muscles.

Since weak muscles in the foot and ankle can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, strengthening these muscles can be beneficial. A classic strengthening exercise for plantar fasciitis is called toe grabbing, in which you use your toes to grab and drag. a small towel on the floor.

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Be sure to check with your physical therapist or doctor to find out which strengthening exercises are right for you.

Kinesiology bandage

Kinesiology tape is a flexible cotton tape that helps support the arch of the foot while allowing the foot and ankle to move freely. Before applying the kinesiology tape to your foot, be sure to speak with your physical therapist or doctor to make sure you are using it correctly.

Medicine

Your healthcare provider may recommend a short course (two to three weeks) of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help relieve pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia. However, check with your doctor before taking an NSAID to make sure it is safe and suitable for you.

If the pain persists, the doctor may inject a steroid (cortisone) into the painful area of the foot.

Orthopedics

Your physical therapist or health care professional may recommend shoes with soft soles and orthopedic support, such as a heel cup or gel pad for plantar fasciitis. The main purpose of this brace is to support the arch and heel of the foot to relieve pressure and tension on the plantar fascia.

Constant pain options

If the above measures do not provide adequate foot and heel pain relief, your healthcare provider may consider one of the following:

  • Night splint : Although scientific evidence is limited, a night splint, which gently stretches the plantar fascia at night while supporting the leg at a 90-degree angle, may provide some benefit.
  • Immobilization : Your healthcare professional may recommend complete rest for your feet by temporarily immobilizing them in a cast or soft walking boots.
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) and Botulinum Toxin Injections (Botox): ESWT and Botox are two examples of alternative treatments for chronic plantar fasciitis that your healthcare professional may recommend.
  • Surgery: In rare cases, surgery to release a portion of the plantar fascia from its attachment to the heel bone is used to treat plantar fasciitis.

Prevention

It is not unusual for people to effectively control their plantar fasciitis , only to have their symptoms reappear when they stop treatment. For this reason, it is important to develop strategies to help prevent recurrence of symptoms.

These strategies may include the following:

  • Losing weight while being overweight or obese
  • Exercising regularly to stretch the plantar fascia
  • Wear supportive shoes with good cushioning and avoid very flat shoes or high heels.
  • Wear supportive shoes or sandals (not slippers) on your feet every morning immediately after waking up (even if you have a carpet on the floor ) .
  • Switch to lighter forms of exercise, such as swimming or riding a stationary bike.

Get the word of drug information

Without a doubt, treating plantar fasciitis can be an unpleasant and painful problem. The good news is that you can take steps to ease your symptoms and prevent them from happening again.

It can be a trial and error process that requires a bit of patience and perseverance on your part, but you can get relief.

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