Plantar fasciitis refers to an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick, fibrous band running along the sole of the foot. Such inflammation results from direct injury to the plantar fascia,
usually, repeated trauma to the tissue where the fascia attaches to the calcaneus or heel bone. The plantar fascia is critical in maintaining the footâs complex arch system, also playing a role in
balance and fine control of certain phases of the athleteâs gait. Injury to the plantar fascia is particularly painful and disabling for runners and can often prove stubbornly resistant to
treatment. Rehabilitation is frequently a lengthy and frustrating process. For these reasons, care should be taken where possible to avoid such injury by means of preventative exercises and
sensitivity to early warning signs.
When the foot moves, the plantar fascia stretches and contracts. Plantar fasciitis is caused by the repetitive overstretching of the plantar fascia. If the tension on the plantar fascia is too great,
this overstretching causes small tears in the plantar fascia. This in turn causes the plantar fascia to become inflamed and painful. Factors that contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis
include having very high arches or flat feet, gender, while anyone can develop plantar fasciitis, it tends to occur more commonly in women, exercises such as running, walking and dancing,
particularly if the calf muscles are tight. Activities or occupations that involve walking or standing for long periods of time, particularly on hard surfaces, wearing high heeled shoes or shoes that
do not offer adequate arch support and cushioning, being overweight, additional weight increases the tension on the plantar fascia, poor biomechanics, extra tension is placed on the plantar fascia if
weight is not spread evenly when standing, walking or running. Some cases of plantar fasciitis may be linked to underlying diseases that cause arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain on the bottom of the heel, pain in the arch of the foot, pain that is usually worse upon arising, pain that increases over a period of months. People with
plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after theyâve been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain decreases, because
walking stretches the fascia. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.
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
Treatment of heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis begins with simple steps. There are a number of options for treatment of plantar fasciitis, and almost always some focused effort with nonsurgical
treatments can provide excellent relief. In rare circumstances, simple steps are not adequate at providing relief, and more invasive treatments may be recommended. Typically, patients progress from
simple steps, and gradually more invasive treatments, and only rarely is surgery required.
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.
Calf stretch. Lean forward against a wall with one knee straight and the heel on the ground. Place the other leg in front, with the knee bent. To stretch the calf muscles and the heel cord, push your
hips toward the wall in a controlled fashion. Hold the position for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat this exercise 20 times for each foot. A strong pull in the calf should be felt during the stretch.
Plantar fascia stretch. This stretch is performed in the seated position. Cross your affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the toes of your painful foot and slowly pull them toward you
in a controlled fashion. If it is difficult to reach your foot, wrap a towel around your big toe to help pull your toes toward you. Place your other hand along the plantar fascia. The fascia should
feel like a tight band along the bottom of your foot when stretched. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat it 20 times for each foot. This exercise is best done in the morning before standing or