The Plantar Fascia is a broad, thick band of tissue that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot. Through overuse the fascia can become inflamed and painful at its attachment to the heel
bone or calcaneus. The condition is traditionally thought to be inflammation, however this is now believed to be incorrect due to the absence of inflammatory cells within the fascia. The cause of
pain is thought to be degeneration of the collagen fibres close to the attachment to the heel bone.
Your plantar fascia (fay-sha) supports the arch of your foot as you run or walk. It is a thick, inelastic, fibrous band that starts in your heel, runs along the bottom of your foot, and spreads out
to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this fibrous band. If you are female or have a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces you are more at risk for plantar
fasciitis. Additional causes include Being overweight, Having flat feet or high arches, Wearing shoes with poor support, Walking or running for exercise, Tight calf muscles that limit how far you can
flex your ankles, Running on soft terrain, Increase in activity level, Genetic predisposition.
Plantar fasciitis commonly causes a stabbing pain in the heel of the foot, which is worse during the first few steps of the day after awakening. As you continue to walk on the affected foot, the pain
gradually lessens. Usually, only one foot is affected, but it can occur in both feet simultaneously.
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by a health care provider after consideration of a personâs presenting history, risk factors, and clinical examination. Tenderness to palpation along the
inner aspect of the heel bone on the sole of the foot may be elicited during the physical examination. The foot may have limited dorsiflexion due to tightness of the calf muscles or the Achilles
tendon. Dorsiflexion of the foot may elicit the pain due to stretching of the plantar fascia with this motion. Diagnostic imaging studies are not usually needed to diagnose plantar fasciitis.
However, in certain cases a physician may decide imaging studies (such as X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound or MRI) are warranted to rule out other serious causes of foot pain. Bilateral heel pain or
heel pain in the context of a systemic illness may indicate a need for a more in-depth diagnostic investigation. Lateral view x-rays of the ankle are the recommended first-line imaging modality to
assess for other causes of heel pain such as stress fractures or bone spur development. Plantar fascia aponeurosis thickening at the heel greater than 5 millimeters as demonstrated by ultrasound is
consistent with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. An incidental finding associated with this condition is a heel spur, a small bony calcification on the calcaneus (heel bone), which can be found in
up to 50% of those with plantar fasciitis. In such cases, it is the underlying plantar fasciitis that produces the heel pain, and not the spur itself. The condition is responsible for the creation of
the spur though the clinical significance of heel spurs in plantar fasciitis remains unclear.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment of plantar fasciitis is sometimes a drawn out and frustrating process. A program of rehabilitation should be undertaken with the help of someone qualified and knowledgeable about the
affliction. Typically, plantar fasciitis will require at least six weeks and up to six months of conservative care to be fully remedied. Should such efforts not provide relief to the athlete, more
aggressive measures including surgery may be considered. The initial goals of physical therapy should be to increase the passive flexion of the foot and improve flexibility in the foot and ankle,
eventually leading to a full return to normal function. Prolonged inactivity in vigorous sports is often the price to be paid for thorough recovery. Half measures can lead to a chronic condition, in
some cases severely limiting athletic ability. As a large amount of time is spent in bed during sleeping hours, it is important to ensure that the sheets at the foot of the bed do not constrict the
foot, leading to plantar flexion in which the foot is bent straight out with the toes pointing. This constricts and thereby shortens the gastroc complex, worsening the condition. A heating pad placed
under the muscles of the calf for a few minutes prior to rising may help loosen tension, increase circulation in the lower leg and reduce pain. Also during sleep, a night splint may be used in order
to hold the ankle joint in a neutral position. This will aid in the healing of the plantar fascia and ensure that the foot will not become flexed during the night.
In cases that do not respond to any conservative treatment, surgical release of the plantar fascia may be considered. Plantar fasciotomy may be performed using open, endoscopic or radiofrequency
lesioning techniques. Overall, the success rate of surgical release is 70 to 90 percent in patients with plantar fasciitis. Potential risk factors include flattening of the longitudinal arch and heel
hypoesthesia as well as the potential complications associated with rupture of the plantar fascia and complications related to anesthesia.
Maintain a healthy weight. This minimizes the stress on your plantar fascia. Choose supportive shoes. Avoid high heels. Buy shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency.
Don't go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces. Don't wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace your old athletic shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet. If you're a runner, buy new
shoes after about 500 miles of use. Change your sport. Try a low-impact sport, such as swimming or bicycling, instead of walking or jogging. Apply ice. Hold a cloth-covered ice pack over the area of
pain for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. Or try ice massage. Freeze a water-filled paper cup and roll it over the site of discomfort for about five to seven minutes.
Regular ice massage can help reduce pain and inflammation. Stretch your arches. Simple home exercises can stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.