If your first few steps out of bed in the morning cause severe pain in the heel of your foot, you may have plantar fasciitis, an overuse injury that affects the sole of the foot. A diagnosis of
plantar fasciitis means you have inflamed the tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes.
Repeated small injuries to the fascia (with or without inflammation) are thought to be the cause of plantar fasciitis. The injury is usually near to where the plantar fascia attaches to your heel
bone. You are more likely to injure your plantar fascia in certain situations. For example, if you are on your feet for a lot of the time, or if you do lots of walking, running, standing, etc, when
you are not used to it. (Plantar fasciitis may be confused with 'Policeman's heel', but they are different. Policeman's heel is plantar calcaneal bursitis - inflammation of the sack of fluid (bursa)
under the heel bone. This is not as common as plantar fasciitis.) Also, people with a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to plantar fasciitis. If you have recently started exercising on a different
surface, for example, running on the road instead of a track. If you have been wearing shoes with poor cushioning or poor arch support. If you are overweight this will put extra strain on your heel.
If there is overuse or sudden stretching of your sole. For example, athletes who increase running intensity or distance; poor technique starting 'off the blocks', etc. If you have a tight Achilles
tendon (the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia. Often there is no
apparent cause for plantar fasciitis, particularly in older people. A common wrong belief is that the pain is due to a bony growth or 'spur' coming from the heel bone (calcaneum). Many people have a
bony spur of the heel bone but not everyone with this gets plantar fasciitis.
The pain is more intense with your first steps out of bed in the morning or after sitting for a while. The reason for this is that during rest our muscles and ligaments tend to shorten and tighten
up. The tightening of the plantar fascia means more traction on the ligament making the tissue even more sensitive. With sudden weight-bearing the tissue is being traumatised, resulting in a stabbing
pain. After walking around for a while the ligament warms up, becomes a little bit more flexible and adapts itself, making the pain go way entirely or becoming more of a dull ache. However, after
walking a long distance or standing for hours the pain will come back again. To prevent the sudden sharp pain in the morning or after sitting, it is important to give the feet a little warm-up first
with some simple exercises. Also, any barefoot walking should be avoided, especially first thing in the morning, as this will damage to the plantar fascia tissue. Aparty from pain in the heel or
symptoms may include a mild swelling under the heel. In addition, heel pain is often associated with tightness in the calf muscles. Tight calf muscles are a major contributing factor to Plantar
Your doctor can usually diagnose plantar fasciitis just by talking to you and examining your feet. Rarely, tests are needed if the diagnosis is uncertain or to rule out other possible causes of heel
pain. These can include X-rays of the heel or an ultrasound scan of the fascia. An ultrasound scan usually shows thickening and swelling of the fascia in plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest until the pain resolves and you are feeling better. For most people with plantar fasciitis it is very difficult to rest as daily routine demands using their feet during the day for work or other
activities. By using the painful foot you keep on hurting the plantar fascia, harming the foot and increasing inflammation. Rest as much as you can, reduce unnecessary activities and additional
stress on the fascia. Cold therapy like applying ice to the bottom of your foot helps reduce pain and inflammation. Cold therapy can be used all the time until symptoms have resolved. Some patients
prefer to roll their foot over an iced cold drink can or bottle taken out of the freezer. Physical therapy Exercises are good plantar fasciitis treatment. Stretching and other physical therapy
measures may be used to provide relief. Stretching the plantar fascia is reported in scientific studies to be a very effective treatment technique. Gait analysis will determine if you overpronate or
oversupinate. An expert may perform a test of the way you stand and walk to see if you step in a way that puts more stress on the plantar fascia. You can try to change the way you walk and stand
according to the experts recommendation as part of your treatment. Exercise the foot muscles to make the muscles stronger. One good exercise is grabbing and lifting up a towel or marbles using your
toes. You can do the same exercise without a towel as though you are grasping something with the toes of each foot. Another good exercise is walking as tall as you can on your toes and on the balls
of your feet. Stretching the plantar fascia and the calf muscles several times a day is an important part of the treatment and prevention. There are many stretching exercises for the plantar fascia
and the calf muscles that you can find. Long term treatment should not focus in reduction of pain and inflammation alone. This is a passive short term relief treatment. Stretching exercises results
are longer and more flexible foot movement which can prevent another fascia injury. Plantar fasciitis taping technique can assist the foot getting rest and help it from getting injured again.
Athletic tape is applied in strips on the skin on the bottom of the foot supporting the plantar fascia. The tape restricts the movement of the foot so the fascia can not be injured again. Taping
supports the foot by putting the tired foot muscles and tendons in a physiologically more relaxed position. A night splint is worn during sleep. It holds the calf muscles and plantar fascia in a
stretched position. Night splint treatment lets the fascia heal in a stretched position so it will not get bruised again when waking up and stretching it again while walking. Orthotics or inserts
that your doctor may prescribe or custom made arch supports (orthotics) plantar fascia orthotic. help to distribute the pressure on your feet more evenly. Arch Support gives a little raise to the
arch assisting the plantar fascia. There are also over-the-counter inserts that are used for arch support and heel cushioning. Heel cups and cradles provide extra comfort and cushion the heel. They
reduce shock placed on the foot during everyday activities like Shock absorbers. Anti-inflammatory or Pain medication that a clinician may recommend can be a plantar fasciitis treatment.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can reduce swelling and relieve pain. However, these medications may have many side effects and it is important to consider the potential risks
and benefits. These medications may relieve the pain and inflammation but will not cure the fascia. Lose weight as much as you can. Extra weight puts more stress on your plantar fascia. Platelet Rich
Plasma or PRP therapy, is a procedure which involves an injection of special plasma, made out of the patients own blood, to the injured area. Platelets are special blood components that have a major
role in the body ability to heal itself. Blood is taken from the patient and separated into its components. The platelet rich part of the blood is than taken and injected into the injured area - in
our case to the bottom of the foot. The special plasma helps the foot recovery process. The procedure is actually maximizing the body's natural healing response of the treated area. Extracorporeal
shock wave therapy is a procedure which sound waves are targeted at the area of heel pain to encourage healing. It is mostly used for chronic plantar fasciitis which does not respond to conservative
treatments. This procedure has many possible side effects like bruising, swelling, pain or numbness and has not proved to be consistently effective. Corticosteroid injection (or cortisone shots) into
the painful area may provide relief in severe cases. This kind of medication is very efficient in inflammation reduction. Corticosteroid injections usually provide short-term relief from plantar
fasciitis pain. Symptom relief from the corticosteroid injection lasts for 3 to 6 weeks, but the effect often deteriorates and symptoms return. Botox Injections (botulinum toxin) are used to relieve
the pain of plantar fasciitis, assist foot function recovery and the ability to walk better. Although the use of Botox injections as heel pain treatment is relatively new, there are a number of
medical studies that show significant good results.
Surgery is rarely needed in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. The vast majority of patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis will recover given ample time. With some basic treatment steps, well
over 90% of patients will achieve full recovery from symptoms of plantar fasciitis within one year of the onset of treatment. Simple treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, shoe inserts, and
stretching exercises. In patients where a good effort with these treatments fails to provide adequate relief, some more aggressive treatments may be attempted. These include cortisone injections or
extracorporeal shock wave treatments.
Being overweight can place excess pressure and strain on your feet, particularly on your heels. Losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight by combining regular exercise with a healthy, balanced
diet, can be beneficial for your feet. Wearing appropriate footwear is also important. Ideally, you should wear shoes with a low to moderate heel that supports and cushions your arches and heels.
Avoid wearing shoes with no heels.