What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common types of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a strong band of ligamentous tissue that runs from the heel to the bones in the middle of the foot. The plantar fascia also supports the arch of the foot and acts as the foot's shock absorber. Plantar fasciitis is thought to be caused by repeated minor injuries to the fascia. The site of these injuries is normally near to where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The onset of pain is usually gradual without any particular injury to the area. It is often triggered by wearing a flat, unsupportive shoe (such as flip flops on summer holidays). This can overstretch the plantar fascia and causes inflammation in the area. Pain is normally felt underneath the foot towards the front of the heel. It is common for it to start in one heel and normally it is most painful when standing up first thing in the morning. The pain caused by plantar fasciitis often eases with activity but then worsens towards the end of the day, or after a long time on your feet. Plantar fasciitis mainly affects people over 40 and is more common in women. It can, however, occur at any age. It is also common in sportsmen athletes due to the increased stresses placed through the plantar fascia.
What are the causes of plantar fasciitis?
People who do lots of running, walking or standing are prone to plantar fasciitis. Alterations to training patterns such as the type, intensity, distance and terrain can cause symptoms. Shoes with poor arch support or little cushioning can cause plantar fasciitis, as can 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 and / or physiotherapist. Various treatment options are available to manage the condition.
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. Plantar fasciitis, however, it sometimes has a tendency to recur.
Podiatry treatment for plantar fasciitis
Your 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 of the calf musculature and the achilles tendon can also be helpful.
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