Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the ligament in the sole of the foot that is attached to and extends from the heel to behind the big toe joint.
The ligament is made of a fibrous tissue known as fascia and acts like a band to help bind, support, and protect the structure of the sole of the foot, especially the arch which acts as a shock absorber against the hard ground and surfaces we live and play on.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common and increasing complaints of foot pain, especially in the heel, arch, and forefoot.
Repetitive straining of this plantar fascia through excessive running, walking, or jumping can damage and tear the fascia, commonly at its insertion point at the heel and a heel spur, or hardening and inflammation in any area, can develop. Pain is often felt first thing in the morning upon getting up or after a long day of standing or walking.
Other causes of plantar fasciitis can be over pronation (dropping inwards) of the ankle joints or some deformities that cause misalignment of the ankle and foot and over stretch the fascia. Some people may have these conditions or perform the above activities and then exacerbate the pressures on the ligament by not wearing supportive footwear or going bare foot on hard inflexible surfaces. The tension builds up and if not relieved, the body instigates its natural response to become inflamed to slow or stop the person being active long enough for it to heal.
Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is diagnosed based on the history of the condition and usually a doctor’s examination will show localised tenderness along the sole of the foot. X-ray or ultrasounds can be done and may show associated heel spurs and help rule out fractures or tumours.
Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis
Treatment aims at decreasing inflammation and preventing further injury or recurrence.
1. Massage your Feet.
Rolling the plantar region on a golf or tennis ball or even a bottle has been shown to help relieve the pain. Do it gently and slowly being careful not to create any intense pain. If pain get worse, stop the practice.
Applying an ice pack can help reduce the inflammation and pain. You can put your bottle or ball in the fridge before using or use an ice pack that moulds around the inflamed region. Apply initially for only 5 mins and then no longer than 10 mins at a time. Icing is generally used in the initial painful period and can then be stopped.
Stretching helps improve the flexibility and strength of the plantar fascia ligament. Do them slowly and with awareness and if pain increases stop. When you return to them go slower, do less and hold stretch for less time. Try to stretch morning and night.
4. Compression Socks
These helpful socks are specifically designed for plantar fasciitis. They have 6 bands of compression at differing strengths to help lift and support the fascia and help relieve pain. They can be worn under your socks inside shoes, or by themselves, and are especially helpful for those standing or walking on hard ground for long periods such as nurses, teachers, or those in customer service. They are helpful when worn playing sports and many even find them helpful to have on when sleeping. – Adults Orthotics
5. Customised Orthotic Device
A customised orthotic is the long-term solution for correction and support of a foot alignment issue. The feet are the foundation of the body. Our whole-body weight, and life’s activities are made possible because of our feet and if they are not in their proper aligned position, pressure and tension develops in the bones and muscles and conditions such as plantar fasciitis can easily occur. – Link to our orthotics page
6. Quality Footwear
There is no doubt quality structured footwear is essential, especially when we are spending more and more time on hard surfaces, in shopping centres, our houses with tiled floors, and even our parks that are surrounded by concrete paths. What we wear on our feet becomes a major factor in how our feet, ankles and legs will carry us pain free through our days and nights. Birkenstock footwear for instance has an inbuilt footbed inside the shoe that is the shape of a healthy aligned heel, arch, and forefoot. When suffering from plantar fasciitis this footwear is especially helpful in relieving pain and protecting your feet against hard surfaces. - Link to our Footwear page
Pedorthist CPed CM.