What is Plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common types of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis means inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue (like a ligament) that stretches from the heel to the middle foot bones. It supports the arch of the foot and also acts as a shock-absorber in the foot. Repetitive small injuries to the fascia with or without inflammation is thought to be the cause of plantar fasciitis. The injury is usually near to where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
What are the symptoms of Plantar fasciitis?
Pain usually starts gradually without any injury to the area. Often it is triggered by wearing a flat shoe (e.g. flip flops on summer holidays). This stretches the plantar fascia too far and begins the inflammation of the area. Typically, pain is felt under the foot towards the front of the heel. It is common for it to start in one heel only and normally it is most painful when standing up first thing in the morning. It can often ease with activity but then become more pronounced at the end of the day, or after a long time spent on your feet. It mainly affects people over 40 and seems to be more common in women. However, it can occur at any age. It is also common in athletes.
What are the causes of Plantar fasciitis?
People who do lots of running, walking or standing when they are not used to it are prone to plantar fasciitis. Altering where or on what surface you normally do your exercise can precipitate symptoms, also altering your intensity or distance of running can cause symptoms. Shoes with poor arch supports or little cushioning can bring on the condition, as can sudden gains in weight or being overweight, due to the extra stress being placed on the plantar fascia.
What should I do if I have Plantar fasciitis?
If you have plantar fasciitis then you should seek help from a podiatrist or physiotherapist. Various treatment options are available to manage the condition. Usually the pain and inflammation will ease in time.
What shouldn’t I do if I have Plantar fasciitis?
Continuing with the offending activity such as high intensity running will worsen the condition. Footwear with good shock absorption is key to easing the condition, wearing shoes with very thin soles should be avoided, as should high heels.
Could there be any long term effects of Plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis will usually resolve in time with correct treatment, it sometimes has a tendency to recur.
Podiatry treatment for Plantar fasciitis
The podiatrist will give clear footwear advice, with the focus being on good shock absorption. Orthotics (shoe inserts) may be useful to support the arch and reduce strain under the foot. Silicone heel cups can provide cushioning under the heel to improve comfort levels. Stretching the calf muscle and the Achilles tendon can be helpful.
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