Are you experiencing heel pain? Is it painful to take the first few steps out of bed in the morning? Is it still hurting after rest? Plantar fasciitis is a possibility. Don’t ignore this pain in the hope that it will go away; it frequently worsens if left untreated. In this first installment of our Plantar Fasciitis series, we’ll look at the symptoms and causes of this ailment.
What Exactly Is Plantar Fasciitis?
It is caused by inflammation and swelling of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the sole of the foot. One of the most common reasons of heel discomfort is this condition. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot by acting as a shock-absorbing bowstring. If the tension and stress on this becomes excessive, it can result in the formation of small tears, producing irritation and inflammation. Pain can occur where it inserts into the base of the heel bone, resulting in heel pain, or along the sole of the foot between the heel and the toes. If the underlying cause of the pain is not addressed, plantar fasciitis can progress to severe, persistent heel pain, with severity varies from person to person.
What Causes It?
Excessive pronation (fallen arches), when the foot rolls inward too much when walking or running, is the most common cause. Pronation causes the foot to flatten and become unstable, stretching the plantar fascia and producing pain at the point where the tissue inserts into the heel bone. In some cases, the pain worsens over time, and in others, it appears suddenly. Running is a high-impact activity that demands a lot of shock absorption, putting the plantar fascia under strain. You do not, however, have to be an athlete to get this illness.
What Are the Dangers?
Age – most common between the ages of 40 and 70, especially in more active people.
Poor footwear – shoes that lack support around the heel and arch area, as well as thin, overly flexible soles, can cause plantar fasciitis because the feet are not supported, putting stress on the plantar fascia. Flip flops and other loose-fitting, non-shock-absorbing footwear provide insufficient foot protection and support.
Running, dancing, and jumping are all high-impact activities that place a lot of strain on the soles of the feet.
Foot mechanics and type – a flat foot, high arch, or pronation (fallen arches) can all impact weight distribution and place too much strain on the plantar fascia.
Tight, shortened calf muscles and Achilles’ tendon – When the calf muscles and Achilles’ tendon are tight and sensitive, it usually indicates that the plantar fascia is also tight and not functioning properly. To combat this, you can start a stretching routine.
Weight – extra pounds put a strain on the plantar fascia, especially if you gain a lot of weight quickly.
Pregnancy – Plantar fasciitis can occur in women, particularly in the late stages of pregnancy, when swelling occurs and footwear becomes a problem.
Occupation – People who spend the bulk of their time walking or standing on hard surfaces, such as healthcare workers, teachers, waiters, and cooks, are more prone to plantar fasciitis.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by a severe, stabbing pain at the inner part of the bottom of the heel, which can spread into the arch of the foot. This ache normally arises with the first few steps out of bed in the morning. Swelling can happen, but it isn’t always evident. Plantar fasciitis pain usually subsides when the fascia expands as you walk. The pain may return after long periods of standing or when rising from a slumber. The pain may be worse after exercise, but it is not normally felt during the activity.
Barefoot walking should be avoided, especially on hard surfaces like tiles, as it might aggravate the problem. Changing your walking style to relieve plantar fasciitis discomfort should be avoided because it may result in foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back problems. Ignoring plantar fasciitis can lead to chronic, long-term heel pain that interferes with daily activities.
Plantar Fasciitis Prevention and Treatment
Are you suffering from heel pain and plantar fasciitis? Is it having a detrimental impact on your life? Are you seeking for a way out? If that’s the case, this site is for you! In this second installment of our series, we’ll talk about how to avoid and manage plantar fasciitis. Part 1 can be found here.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment at Home
These are some suggestions for relieving the pain and suffering caused by plantar fasciitis.
Reduce your activity level – this is recommended in the near term to reduce tenderness. Activities like sprinting, jumping, and dancing should be avoided.
Avoid walking barefoot – barefoot walking allows shock to go into the feet, aggravating plantar fasciitis.
Wear proper footwear; avoid non-supportive shoes made of soft materials such as cloth, canvas, and so on.
Check the shoe’s heel counter (the small plastic component in the heel) to ensure it is solid and does not collapse easily.
Examine the sole’s flexibility; the only area of flexibility should be at the big toe joint for propulsion when walking. Wear runners that are well-cushioned and fit well. Asics, Brooks, New Balance, and ECCO are among the shoe brands that are advised.
Use gel heel cups, which are available at most pharmacies and can provide some short-term shock absorption.
Apply ice – Using ice on a daily basis may help minimize swelling.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are over-the-counter medications that can reduce swelling and relieve pain. However, before taking any drug, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Reducing the discomfort produced by plantar fascia ligament inflammation is a crucial step in addressing this problem, but it does not address the cause of the ligament injury.
It is critical to treat this illness as soon as possible. Plantar fasciitis is an acute inflammation that causes discomfort and agony for the first 6 weeks. It becomes chronic after 6 weeks and is known as plantar fasciopathy, which is significantly more difficult to treat. The intensity of the symptoms determines the treatment. The longer the issue has existed, the longer it may take to alleviate the discomfort. Your doctor or podiatrist would most likely advise you to start with conservative measures.
What Can a Podiatrist Help Me With?
The podiatrist will undertake a comprehensive biomechanical assessment, taking a full history and assessing both your footwear and your walking style. Bring 2 to 3 pairs of the shoes you wear the most frequently to your appointment so your podiatrist can obtain a better picture and, ultimately, a more accurate diagnosis. Read our blog to find out what to expect during the assessment.
The podiatrist will determine the most likely reason of your plantar fasciitis and work with you to find strategies to keep it from returning, which is fairly frequent. Spectrum Health podiatrists have a wealth of experience treating plantar fasciitis and other heel pain disorders.
What Are the Most Frequently Used Treatments?
Stretch and strengthen – A podiatrist may show and explain an exercise regimen to stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia, achilles tendon, and calf muscles. This is normally a 6-week stretching regimen that is quite effective.
Taping and strapping can help to alleviate tension and support the plantar fascia. This treatment may be utilized in life-threatening situations. The tape, however, only lasts a few days. The podiatrist may instruct you on how to use athletic tape to support the bottom of your foot.
Another therapeutic approach that may help extend the arch of the foot and the calf muscles is the use of a night splint. It is a brace that keeps the foot flexed overnight in order to stretch the plantar fascia and achilles tendon. This may alleviate pain during the first few steps of the day.
Footwear recommendations – Podiatrists can provide recommendations on acceptable footwear properties, particularly for patients considering orthotic therapy. Footwear must include a removable foot bed (inner/insole) that can be removed and replaced with an arch support. Placing an arch support on top of an existing foot-bed might result in corns, hammer toes, circulation limitation due to lack of room, friction, and blisters.
Orthotics – insoles that distribute pressure more evenly – relieve pain. They offload and protect the plantar fascia by tilting and realigning the body, minimizing inward roll (pronation or falling arch) or outward roll (pronation or fallen arch) (supination). Insoles are classified into two types:
Over-the-counter (OTC) insoles – these are generic arch supports that can relieve foot pressure. Some are neutral, while others include a built-in adjustment. Others offer the option of attaching correction, which can be adjusted if more correction is required on one side of the foot. These insoles will be chosen to best suit your demands and footwear and will cost between €45 and €75 from IDEASTEP.
Custom created insoles – These are insoles that are customized and tailor-made for a certain person. They are the greatest long-term therapy choice for plantar fasciitis since they can be adjusted as needed.
What Other Treatment Options Are There?
Shockwave therapy – if the pain persists and other treatments have failed, your podiatrist may offer this new, high-tech treatment. To promote healing, shockwaves are transmitted through the afflicted tissue. This is only accessible at a few Spectrum Health clinics, so please request it when making your appointment. More information on shockwave therapy can be found here.
If conservative therapy are unsuccessful, an injection of a corticosteroid directly into the injured area may be recommended. Steroid injections, on the other hand, have negative effects and might weaken the plantar fascia, potentially causing rupture. Because a steroid injection only cures the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and not the underlying cause, the discomfort may return.
Surgery is only used in the most severe cases if all other therapeutic options have failed.