Do you have sharp, stabbing, and/or aching pain on the bottom of your heel or arch?
Is the pain more severe when you first get up in the morning or when you first start walking after rest? If this describes your pain then you probably suffer from a condition known as PLANTAR
FASCIITIS. It sounds complicated, but plantar fasciitis is actually one of the most common foot problems. In the past plantar fasciitis has been called by other names, such as heel spur syndrome,
bone spurs or a stone bruise on the heel. The plantar fascia is a long thick ligament that runs along the arch of your foot from your heel bone (the calcaneus) to the ball of the foot. The job of the
plantar fascia is to help support your arch. When the fascia becomes inflamed and painful we call this PLANTAR FASCIITIS. The pain from plantar fasciitis most commonly occurs near the attachment of
the fascia to the calcaneus (heel bone), which is why most people who suffer from plantar fasciitis have pain on the bottom or inside of the heel. However, the pain can be anywhere along the fascia
from the heel to the ball of the foot.
Currently no single factor has been reliably identified as contributing to the development of plantar fasciitis. The two risk factors with the most support from current research. Decreased ankle
dorsiflexion. Increased Body Mass Index (BMI) in non-athletic populations. These factors are related in that both lead to increased strain on the arch, both lead to increased compression on the heel.
When dorsiflexion range of motion (ankle flexibility) is lacking, the body compensates by increasing movement of the arch. In this way, decreased ankle dorsiflexion influences pronation and places
strain on the underside of the foot. Similarly, having a high BMI causes strain because it places a load on the foot that may be in excess of what the foot can support. As mentioned earlier,
overpronation is thought to be a contributing factor, but studies on this have so far produced mixed results. The second way these factors relate to each other is in the way people stand. A lack of
ankle flexibility and a high BMI can both cause increased pressure on the heel in standing. Keeping weight on the heels causes compression under the heel. But it also means the muscles and ligaments
in the arch are not being used to balance your body weight. Lack of use, I suspect, is a greater danger than overuse. Looking beyond these potential contributors to heel pain though, there is one
major factor that overshadows them all-the way footwear alters the normal function of the foot.
The pain is more intense with your first steps out of bed in the morning or after sitting for a while. The reason for this is that during rest our muscles and ligaments tend to shorten and tighten
up. The tightening of the plantar fascia means more traction on the ligament making the tissue even more sensitive. With sudden weight-bearing the tissue is being traumatised, resulting in a stabbing
pain. After walking around for a while the ligament warms up, becomes a little bit more flexible and adapts itself, making the pain go way entirely or becoming more of a dull ache. However, after
walking a long distance or standing for hours the pain will come back again. To prevent the sudden sharp pain in the morning or after sitting, it is important to give the feet a little warm-up first
with some simple exercises. Also, any barefoot walking should be avoided, especially first thing in the morning, as this will damage to the plantar fascia tissue. Aparty from pain in the heel or
symptoms may include a mild swelling under the heel. In addition, heel pain is often associated with tightness in the calf muscles. Tight calf muscles are a major contributing factor to Plantar
Plantar fasciosis is confirmed if firm thumb pressure applied to the calcaneus when the foot is dorsiflexed elicits pain. Fascial pain along the plantar medial border of the fascia may also be
present. If findings are equivocal, demonstration of a heel spur on x-ray may support the diagnosis; however, absence does not rule out the diagnosis, and visible spurs are not generally the cause of
symptoms. Also, infrequently, calcaneal spurs appear ill defined on x-ray, exhibiting fluffy new bone formation, suggesting spondyloarthropathy (eg, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis. If an
acute fascial tear is suspected, MRI is done.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following recommendations are appropriate. Wear shoes with adequate arch support and cushioned heels; discard old running shoes and wear new ones; rotate work shoes daily. Avoid long periods of
standing. Lose weight. Stretch the plantar fascia and warm up the lower extremity before participating in exercise. For increased flexibility, stretch the plantar fascia and the calf after exercise.
Do not exercise on hard surfaces. Avoid walking barefooted on hard surfaces. Avoid high-impact sports that require a great deal of jumping (eg, aerobics and volleyball). Apply ice for 20 minutes
after repetitive impact-loading activities and at the end of the day. Limit repetitive impact-loading activities such as running to every other day, and consider rest or cross-training for nonrunning
Surgery should be reserved for patients who have made every effort to fully participate in conservative treatments, but continue to have pain from plantar fasciitis. Patients should fit the following
criteria. Symptoms for at least 9 months of treatment. Participation in daily treatments (exercises, stretches, etc.). If you fit these criteria, then surgery may be an option in the treatment of
your plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately, surgery for treatment of plantar fasciitis is not as predictable as a surgeon might like. For example, surgeons can reliably predict that patients with severe
knee arthritis will do well after knee replacement surgery about 95% of the time. Those are very good results. Unfortunately, the same is not true of patients with plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis can be a nagging problem, which gets worse and more difficult to treat the longer it's present. To prevent plantar fasciitis, run on soft surfaces, keep mileage increases to less
than 10 percent per week, and visit a specialty running shop to make sure you're wearing the proper shoes for your foot type and gait. It's also important to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles