Pain and discomfort can become so severe that it may affect standing and walking. Plantar Fasciitis literally means inflammation (iitis) of the plantar (bottom) fascia of your foot. The plantar fascia is not a muscle or tendon. It is a strong and dense connective tissue structure that supports your arch. Not everyone will actually have inflammation or fasciitis and may have damage, micro-tearing, degeneration and or thickening which is more appropriately called plantar fasciosis. If inflammation and tension on the plantar fascia becomes chronic you may eventually develop a heel spur that can be detected on standard x-rays by your doctor.
What are Possible Causes of Plantar Fasciitis/Plantar Fasciosis?
-Improper or ill fitting shoes
Shoes that are worn out, lack support, thin soled or lack shock absorption will not provide adequate foot protection (think flip flops or those flat furry boots).
-Problems with foot structure and mechanics
Flatfeet or over pronated feet (toes pointing outwards), high arches or supinated feet (toes pointing inwards) will cause increased tension and strain on the plantar fascia due to poor weight distribution across the bones and joints
-A rapid increase in physical activity
Increasing your physical activity too quickly during an activity or sport without the appropriate training can increase the stress and strain and overload the plantar fascia
Being overweight or obese can increase stress on the plantar fascia especially if the weight was very sudden
Other causes of plantar fascia problems can be due to arthritis and overall inflammation in the body, diabetes and age.
How is this condition treated?
If you have never had pain to your arch or heel before you should first and foremost contact your foot and ankle specialist. Some of the treatment options they should discuss with you are:
-Stretching and strengthening exercises for your foot and ankle.
When stretching and strengthening you want to make sure that the exercises you are doing focus on the calf muscles/Achilles tendon as well as the plantar fascia and internal muscles of the feet. You can find some exercises here. More to come!
This should include such exercises as stated above as well as other physical therapy modalities. Some modalities include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, contrast baths, and range-of-motion exercises. You and your doctor may also decide to try massage and acupuncture.
If you continue to overload or cause increased tension and injury to the plantar fascia it may continue to damage the area and cause further injury. To maintain your activity level try other exercises like swimming, cycling or mat pilates. These exercises should not cause any pain to the area in order to decrease stress and inflammation
-Over the Counter Arch Supports
Arch supports, heel cups and heel pads can help provide extra shock absorption and reduce stress and strain. They can also help to correct poor mechanics decreasing the overall strain on the fascia and other musculature.
-Custom Made Supports
Custom made foot inserts or custom orthotics are devices that you can slip right into your shoes. If you do have a mechanical or structural issue that is causing your arch pain this may be right for you. Ask your foot and ankle specialist about having a pair made. Custom orthotics, if made appropriately, can also help correct overall posture and decrease knee, hip and back pain preventing more costly therapy and surgery
If the pain and inflammation is acute or new onset then ice can help decrease quickly. You can use ice cubes or an ice pack and massage the area twice a day for 10 minutes . another great trick is taking a frozen water bottle and rolling that from heels to toe on bottom of foot as can be seen here. There are also oral and topical pain relievers. Before using any of these you should contact your medical specialist.
-Wearing supportive shoe wear
In order for you to know what shoes are the best for your foot type and activity contact your medical specialist
If your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon are very tight you may be prescribed a night splint. This can help to gradually decrease stiffness and improve flexibility. Your plantar fascia is actually attached to part of the Achilles tendon on the back of your heel. Stretching both can help alleviate your symptoms.
For Further Questions About Arch and Heel Pain Contact Dr. Suz Heals at Drsuzheals@gmail.com or connect with us on social media. Check out our Contact Page for more links to helpful foot products!
Cheers to Your Health!