Plantar Fasciitis is a common athletic injury of the foot. While runners are most likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis, any athlete whose sport involves intensive use of the feet may be
vulnerable. The risk of plantar fasciitis increases in athletes who have a particularly high arch, or uneven leg length, though improper biomechanics of the athleteâs gait and simple overuse tend
to be the primary culprits. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis or are seeking to prevent its occurrence it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple
stretches to your fitness program will also help.
The cause of plantar fasciitis is poorly understood and is thought to likely have several contributing factors. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that originates from
the medial tubercle and anterior aspect of the heel bone. From there, the fascia extends along the sole of the foot before inserting at the base of the toes, and supports the arch of the foot.
Originally, plantar fasciitis was believed to be an inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia. However, within the last decade, studies have observed microscopic anatomical changes indicating that
plantar fasciitis is actually due to a non-inflammatory structural breakdown of the plantar fascia rather than an inflammatory process. Due to this shift in thought about the underlying mechanisms in
plantar fasciitis, many in the academic community have stated the condition should be renamed plantar fasciosis. The structural breakdown of the plantar fascia is believed to be the result of
repetitive microtrauma (small tears). Microscopic examination of the plantar fascia often shows myxomatous degeneration, connective tissue calcium deposits, and disorganized collagen fibers.
Disruptions in the plantar fasciaâs normal mechanical movement during standing and walking (known as the Windlass mechanism) are thought to contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis by
placing excess strain on the calcaneal tuberosity.
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by
long periods of standing or getting up from a seated position.
Plantar fasciitis is one of many conditions causing "heel pain". Some other possible causes include nerve compression either in the foot or in the back, stress fracture of the calcaneus, and loss of
the fatty tissue pad under the heel. Plantar fasciitis can be distinguished from these and other conditions based on a history and examination done by a physician. It should be noted that heel spurs
are often inappropriately thought to be the sole cause of heel pain. In fact, heel spurs are common and are nothing more than the bone's response to traction or pulling-type forces from the plantar
fascia and other muscles in the foot where they attach to the heel bone. They are commonly present in patients without pain, and frequently absent from those who have pain. It is the rare patient who
has a truly enlarged and problematic spur requiring surgery.
Non Surgical Treatment
Give your painful heel lots of rest. You may need to stay completely off your foot for several days when the pain is severe. Your healthcare provider may recommend or prescribe anti-inflammatory
medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs decrease pain and inflammation. Adults aged 65 years and older should not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for more than 7 days
without their healthcare providerâs approval. Resting your heel on an ice pack for a few minutes several times a day can also help. Try to cushion your foot. You can do this by wearing athletic
shoes, even at work, for awhile. Heel cushions can also be used. The cushions should be worn in both shoes. They are most helpful if you are overweight or an older adult. Your provider may recommend
special arch supports or inserts for your shoes called orthotics, either custom-made or off the shelf. These supports can be particularly helpful if you have flat feet or high arches. Your provider
may recommend an injection of a cortisone-like medicine. Lose weight if needed. A night splint may be recommended. This will keep the plantar fascia stretched while you are sleeping. Physical therapy
for additional treatments may be recommended. Surgery is rarely needed.
More invasive procedures to treat plantar fasciitis are usually sought only after other treatment has failed to produce favorable results. Corticosteroid injections deliver medicine into the injured
fascia to reduce pain. However, this treatment may weaken the plantar fascia and result in further damage. In addition, extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a treatment where sound waves are
sent through the damaged tissue in order to stimulate the damaged tissue and encourage healing. This method is relatively new in treating plantar fasciitis and your doctor will be able to tell you if
it is the right method for you. Lastly, surgery is the last option for those suffering from chronic or severe plantar fasciitis.
The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to wear shoes that are well made and fit your feet. This is especially important when you exercise or walk a lot or stand for a long time on hard
surfaces. Get new athletic shoes before your old shoes stop supporting and cushioning your feet. You should also avoid repeated jarring to the heel. Keep a healthy weight. Do your leg and foot
stretching exercises regularly.