Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the thick band of tissues or fascia located at the bottom of the feet that extends from the heel to the toes. The condition may cause throbbing pain during the first steps after waking up in the morning. However, the pain may reduce once a person gets up and moves and returns with long periods of standing or standing after sitting. Runners and obese people are more likely to get it. However, wearing the wrong shoes may be another reason.

The plantar fascia ligaments undergo extensive wear and tear in everyday life. Due to excessive pressure on the feet, the ligaments tear, and the fascia becomes irritated and inflamed, resulting in stiffness and pain. In most cases, the condition may develop without a specific reason.

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Plantar Fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the thick band of tissues or fascia located at the bottom of the feet that extends from the heel to the toes.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis:

The primary symptoms of the condition are a nagging and dull pain in the plantar fascia. The other symptoms include:

  • Pain at the bottom of the heel or in the adjoining area
  • Pain in the arch of the foot
  • Increase of pain after exercises
  • Pain in the heel continuing for months
  • Throbbing pain that worsens in the morning  or when one stands after long periods
  • Swelling on the heel
  • Tightness in the Achilles tendon

When one or a few symptoms become prominent, doctors assess the condition before starting the treatment procedure.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis:

Active men and women aged between forty and seventy years are at a higher risk of developing this condition. It is a little bit more common in women than in men. Pregnant women also experience the symptoms of this condition. The causes are:

  • People with high-arched or flat feet
  • Wearing the wrong shoes that fail to support the feet, especially when standing on a hard surface for prolonged periods.
  • Obesity causing excessive pressure on the plantar fascia ligaments and applies to those with sudden weight gain
  • Athletes, runners, and jumpers are more prone to heel pain
  • Standing for long periods and exercising without stretching the calves
  • Unusual feet position when walking
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes
  • Using worn-out or thin soles
  • People with tight Achilles tendons that attach the calf muscles to the heels may also cause pain
  • Wearing shoes with bad arch support may also cause pain and discomfort
  • Heel pain is also common at a later stage of pregnancy
  • Improper foot alignment
  • Gait issues
  • Training volume issues in runners and athletes
  • Poor strength and flexibility do not allow the tissues to handle the load

When to see a Physiotherapist for Plantar Fasciitis:

Physiotherapy helps in minimizing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and reduces the condition from flaring up. The suggestions of the therapist depend on the severity of the condition.

  • Providing education and recommendations about heel pain and how to fix it
  • Assessing the condition of the feet to find out whether the patient requires changing the footwear or contoured foot orthoses.
  • Strengthening programs of the toe and calf muscles and other muscle groups
  • Applying tape to support the plantar fascia and to provide relief from the symptoms
  • Soft tissue therapy of the plantar fascia and the proximal myofascial region
  • Load management tips for the athletes and how to reduce standing for hours together
  • Stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of the plantar fascia and the ankle.
  • Assessing the gait or whether it impacts the symptoms
  • Applying ice to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Iontophoresis or administering medication through the skin
  • Strengthening exercises to improve the flexibility of the plantar fascia and the ankle
  • Using a night splint to maintain the correct position of the toe and ankle

Exercises at Home:

  • Rolling a golf ball or frozen bottle below the feet to massage and reduce the tissue tone
  • Preventing dress shoes but if essential for work may work fine with heel cups or silicone gel heating pad
  • Stretching the plantar fasciitis in the morning with the toe on the wall and heel on the floor or using the hands to pull the toes and ankle

The therapeutic treatment reduces the pain levels and restoring movement on the foot and ankle. The therapists also review the walking and running style and recommend suitable methods of improvement.

Risks of Plantar Fasciitis:

Without proper treatment, the condition can lead to scar tissue and chronic heel and arch pain. Pain may cause changes to how you walk, leading to complications in the knees, hips, and ankles.

How to prevent Plantar Fasciitis:

It is hard to predict an exact preventive method for this condition, but certain exercises help.

  • Strengthening the arch muscles by placing a towel on the floor and grabbing it with the toes to pull it towards yourself.
  • When sitting, one can grasp the same towel towards them
  • Standing with the back leg straight and the heel down and moving the hip forward until a stretch on the calf helps.

Treatments of Plantar Fasciitis:

The treatments of this condition include:

  • Applying ice on the affected area
  • Using night splints to stretch the calf and feet when asleep
  • Resting is necessary to prevent the pain from becoming worse and avoiding running or jumping
  • Using supportive inserts or shoes include using thick soles with extra cushioning to reduce the pain when standing or walking
  • Taking pain-relieving medications such as non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory pills  with the doctor’s recommendation

Once the treatment begins, improvements can be noted within a few months. The doctor may use steroids to ease inflammation. Surgery may be needed in rare cases only.

Related Condition:

Several conditions aggravate heel pain, such as sprains and strains, fracture, Achilles tendonitis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteochondroses, and reactive arthritis.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can plantar fasciitis be cured naturally?
Plantar fasciitis can heal over a period without treatment, but physical therapy relieves pain faster.
2. What aggravates the condition?
Long periods of standing, running, walking, or strenuous exercises can cure the condition.

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