The American College of Sports and Medicine (1) estimates that the average adult takes between 5,000 and 10,000 steps per day. The brunt of this activity is borne by the bones, muscles and ligaments
of the foot. Healthy feet have strong, wonderfully flexible ligaments which are designed to support standing, walking and running. Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced "plantar fash-ee-eye-tis") is defined
as inflammation of, or damage to, one of the most important ligaments in the foot - the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia ligament is located along the sole of your foot. It is made up of fibrous
tissue that stretches outward from the heel bone, like a strong piece of elastic, and then branches out across the arch and through the ball area of the foot toward the toes.
The most frequent cause is an abnormal motion of the foot called excessive pronation. Normally, while walking or during long distance running, your foot will strike the ground on the heel, then roll
forward toward your toes and inward to the arch. Your arch should only dip slightly during this motion. If it lowers too much, you have what is known as excessive pronation. For more details on
pronation, please see the section on biomechanics and gait. Clinically not only those with low arches, but those with high arches can sometimes have plantar fasciitis. The mechanical structure of
your feet and the manner in which the different segments of your feet are linked together and joined with your legs has a major impact on their function and on the development of mechanically caused
problems. Merely having "flat feet" won't take the spring out of your step, but having badly functioning feet with poor bone alignment will adversely affect the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and
can create a variety of aches and pains. Excess pronation can cause the arch of your foot to stretch excessively with each step. It can also cause too much motion in segments of the foot that should
be stable as you are walking or running. This "hypermobility" may cause other bones to shift and cause other mechanically induced problems.
When plantar fasciitis occurs, the pain is typically sharp and usually unilateral (70% of cases).Heel pain worsens by bearing weight on the heel after long periods of rest. Individuals with plantar
fasciitis often report their symptoms are most intense during their first steps after getting out of bed or after prolonged periods of sitting. Improvement of symptoms is usually seen with continued
walking. Numbness, tingling, swelling, or radiating pain are rare but reported symptoms. If the plantar fascia continues to be overused in the setting of plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia can
rupture. Typical signs and symptoms of plantar fascia rupture include a clicking or snapping sound, significant local swelling, and acute pain in the sole of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your plantar fasciitis they will investigate
WHY you are likely to be predisposed to plantar fasciitis and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays may show calcification within the plantar fascia or at its
insertion into the calcaneus, which is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or calcification. Pathology tests
(including screening for HLA B27 antigen) may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Over-the-counter arch supports may be useful in patients with acute plantar fasciitis and mild pes planus. The support provided by over-the-counter arch supports is highly variable and depends on the
material used to make the support. In general, patients should try to find the most dense material that is soft enough to be comfortable to walk on. Over-the-counter arch supports are especially
useful in the treatment of adolescents whose rapid foot growth may require a new pair of arch supports once or more per season. Custom orthotics are usually made by taking a plaster cast or an
impression of the individual's foot and then constructing an insert specifically designed to control biomechanical risk factors such as pes planus, valgus heel alignment and discrepancies in leg
length. For patients with plantar fasciitis, the most common prescription is for semi-rigid, three-quarters to full-length orthotics with longitudinal arch support. Two important characteristics for
successful treatment of plantar fasciitis with orthotics are the need to control over-pronation and metatarsal head motion, especially of the first metatarsal head. In one study, orthotics were cited
by 27 percent of patients as the best treatment. The main disadvantage of orthotics is the cost, which may range from $75 to $300 or more and which is frequently not covered by health
Most practitioners agree that treatment for plantar fasciitis is a slow process. Most cases resolve within a year. If these more conservative measures don't provide relief after this time, your
doctor may suggest other treatment. In such cases, or if your heel pain is truly debilitating and interfering with normal activity, your doctor may discuss surgical options with you. The most common
surgery for plantar fasciitis is called a plantar fascia release and involves releasing a portion of the plantar fascia from the heel bone. A plantar fascia release can be performed through a regular
incision or as endoscopic surgery, where a tiny incision allows a miniature scope to be inserted and surgery to be performed. About one in 20 patients with plantar fasciitis will need surgery. As
with any surgery, there is still some chance that you will continue to have pain afterwards.
Stretching your plantar fasciitis is something you can do at home to relieve pain and speed healing. Ice massage performed three to four times per day in 15 to 20 minute intervals is also something
you can do to reduce inflammation and pain. Placing arch supports in your shoes absorbs shock and takes pressure off the plantar fascia.