What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammatory heel condition affecting the large ligament-type structure that runs through the arch of your foot and attaches to the base of your heel. The Plantar fascia can become inflamed and thick due to the irritation at the base of the heel. Pain is often worse in the morning and after prolonged sitting. The day to day strain on the inflamed fascia causes irritation which in turn prevents or slows down the healing. Therefore, in order to treat this condition, it is important to reduce the strain until it has healed.
What is the best treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Depending on the severity of the condition will depend on the treatment.
Rigid sports tape (Recent onset)
Orthotics (Ongoing pain on a daily basis)
Immobilisation (Extreme pain or torn fascia)
Shockwave therapy (Ongoing pain on a daily basis)
Stages of Plantar fasciitis
Patients will feel a dull ache in the base of the heel or may also feel some slight pulling in the plantar fascia, which can be described as tightness in the sole of the foot. Another symptom in the early stages is the feeling like the patient has stepped on a small stone.
Early treatment or intervention is best to prevent a more chronic heel pain condition.
When the condition is fully developed the symptoms are more acute. It is more of a pain, not just a stiffness or pulling. The pain is more consistent. Patients take longer to walk in the mornings due to the extreme pain. Once the pain subsides most patients find walking throughout the day is not painful. However, after many steps the foot fatigues and the heel pain can return in the late afternoon/ evening.
If plantar fasciitis is left untreated it can become severe. Patients can feel pain most of the day. Even sitting and laying down the pain can described as throbbing. Most patient who have severe plantar fasciitis have stopped exercising ad struggle to walk during day to day movements. Some patients with severe plantar fascia have developed deep surface or laminar tears in the fascia.
Who suffers from Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can affect both men and women. Most are over the age of 30 years old, the majority of patients being over 60 years old.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?
There is no single cause of plantar fasciitis. Poor footwear, high arches, flat feet, increased physical activity, over stretching and body weight can all be contributing factors.
How to treat plantar fasciitis?
Firm sole shoes as they reduce flexion in the foot and hence reduces the strain on the plantar fascia. Avoid lightweight, flat shoe types.
Stretching the calf muscle as this releases the heel.
Shockwave therapy, at weekly or fortnightly intervals.
Ice packs as they should be applied the affected heel/arch area for 20-30 minutes every evening. (At least once)
Try to avoid bare feet (even around the house), pulling the toes back, beach walking, heel raises or running.
Avoid activities that load the forefoot or put the foot into a flexed position (hill, stairs, squats, and ladders), quick movement sports such as tennis, squash, netball, Zumba.
Avoid yoga poses that stress or lengthen the sole of the foot (downward dog in particular)
DO NOT roll your foot on a bottle or ball, hang your feet off a step or stretch the sole of your foot.
Before you get out of bed each morning, gently curl your toes up towards your knees, to stretch the sole of your foot. Do not pull on the toes. Stand immediately onto your orthotics (if you are using them), or a pair of appropriate shoes, pause for a few seconds and then walk very slowly for your first few steps. Take short strides and do not walk on your toes, even if it hurts.