The plantar fascia is ligament composed of a long fibrous band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes. The plantar fascia provides support to the longitudinal arch of the foot and provides some of the shock absorption the arch of the foot provides the body. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this ligament sustains micro tears and becomes inflamed. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel or foot pain which is classically much worse upon first rising in the morning and improves with warming up in activity but may return again after long periods of standing. The pain is most often centered in the bottom of the heel of the foot but may occur in the arches or pad as well. The pain if often made worse by dorsiflexion or pushing back of the toes. Heel spurs are often found in people suffering from plantar fasciitis but are not felt to be the cause of the pain as they are often found in patients suffering no pain symptoms at all.
Plantar fasciitis is common in athletes, those who stand for long periods of time at their job such as waitresses and factory workers, and people with high arches or those who are flat footed. It is more common in women than men and is more likely to occur after age forty. Obesity and shoes with poor support or high heels can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
Planter fasciitis is diagnosed primarily by physical exam and history. Your doctor may order an x-ray of your foot to rule out other disorders.
The treatment of plantar fasciitis may include non-steroidal anti inflammatory such as Ibuprophen, or Naproxen, rest, ice and heat modalities, or orthotic devices for shoes to provide arch support. Your doctor may inject your foot with corticosteroids or prescribe a corticosteroid cream which may provide relief. If you’re overweight diet to normalize your weight may be suggested. Exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and strengthen the lower leg muscles may be suggested. Night splints which hold your foot at a 90 degree angle may be suggested to keep the plantar facia lengthened at night allow for greater stretching and decrease morning pain. Switching from high impact exercise such as running to a lower impact alternative such as swimming may be advised at least short term.
Surgery is advised in only the most extreme cases not responsive to other treatment and does not always have good long term outcome. Most cases of plantar fasciitis will respond to more conservative treatment.
This information is meant to be informational and is not meant as medical advice. For questions regarding your health consult your doctor.