Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain in adults. The pain is usually caused by collagen degeneration (which is sometimes misnamed âchronic inflammationâ) at the origin of the plantar
fascia at the medial tubercle of the calcaneus. This degeneration is similar to the chronic necrosis of tendonosis, which features loss of collagen continuity, increases in ground substance (matrix
of connective tissue) and vascularity, and the presence of fibro-blasts rather than the inflammatory cells usually seen with the acute inflammation of tendonitis. The cause of the degeneration is
repetitive microtears of the plantar fascia that overcome the body's ability to repair itself.
Training on improper, hard and/or irregular surfaces as well as excessive track work in spiked shoes, or steep hill running, can stress the plantar fascia past its limits of elasticity, leading to
injury. Finally, failure in the early season to warm up gradually gives the athlete insufficient time for the structures of the foot to re-acclimate and return to a proper fitness level for intensive
exercise. Such unprepared and repeated trauma causes microscopic tearing, which may only be detected once full-blown plantar fasciitis and accompanying pain and debilitation have resulted. If the
level of damage to the plantar fascia is significant, an inflammatory reaction of the heel bone can produce spike-like projections of new bone, known as heel spurs. Indeed, plantar fasciitis has
occasionally been refereed to as heel spur syndrome, though such spurs are not the cause of the initial pain but are instead a further symptom of the problem. While such spurs are sometimes painless,
in other cases they cause pain or disability in the athlete, and surgical intervention to remove them may be required. A dull, intermittent pain in the heel is typical, sometimes progressing to a
sharp, sustained discomfort. Commonly, pain is worse in the morning or after sitting, later decreasing as the patient begins walking, though standing or walking for long periods usually brings
renewal of the pain.
Plantar fasciitis sufferers feel a sharp stab or deep ache in the middle of the heel or along the arch. Another sign is the morning hobble from the foot trying to heal itself in a contracted position
overnight. Taking that first step causes sudden strain on the bottom of the foot. The pain can recur after long spells of sitting, but it tends to fade during a run, once the area is warmed up.
Your doctor will check your feet and watch you stand and walk. He or she will also ask questions about your past health, including what illnesses or injuries you have had. Your symptoms, such as
where the pain is and what time of day your foot hurts most. How active you are and what types of physical activity you do. Your doctor may take an X-ray of your foot if he or she suspects a problem
with the bones of your foot, such as a stress fracture.
Non Surgical Treatment
As with most soft tissue injuries the initial treatment is Rest, Ice, and Protection. In the early phase youâll most likely be unable to walk pain-free. Our first aim is to provide you with some
active rest from pain-provoking foot postures. This means that you should stop doing any movement or activity that provoked your foot pain in the first place. Ice is a simple and effective modality
to reduce your pain and swelling. Please apply for 20-30 minutes each 2 to 4 hours during the initial phase or when you notice that your injury is warm or hot. A frozen water bottle can provide you
with a ice foot roller that can simultaneously provide you with some gentle plantar fascia massage. Anti-inflammatory medication (if tolerated) and natural substances eg arnica may help reduce your
pain and swelling. However, it is best to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs during the initial 48 to 72 hours when they may encourage additional bleeding. Most people can tolerate paracetamol as a pain
reducing medication. To support and protect your plantar fascia, you may need to be wear a plantar fascia brace, heel cups or have your foot taped to provide pain relief. As mentioned earlier, the
cause of your plantar fasciitis will determine what works best for you. Your physiotherapist will guide you. Your physiotherapist will guide you and utilise a range of pain relieving techniques
including joint mobilisations for stiff joints, massage, electrotherapy, acupuncture or dry needling to assist you during this pain-full phase.
Surgery for plantar fasciitis can be very successful in the right patients. While there are potential complications, about 70-80% of patients will find relief after plantar fascia release surgery.
This may not be perfect, but if plantar fasciitis has been slowing you down for a year or more, it may well be worth these potential risks of surgery. New surgical techniques allow surgery to release
the plantar fascia to be performed through small incisions using a tiny camera to locate and cut the plantar fascia. This procedure is called an endoscopic plantar fascia release. Some surgeons are
concerned that the endoscopic plantar fascia release procedure increases the risk of damage to the small nerves of the foot. While there is no definitive answer that this endoscopic plantar fascia
release is better or worse than a traditional plantar fascia release, most surgeons still prefer the traditional approach.
Do your best to maintain healthy weight. Plantar fasciitis is caused by wear and tear on your feet. Being overweight drastically increases the pounding your feet take every day. Even losing a few
pounds can help reduce heel pain. Avoid jobs that require walking or standing for long periods of time. Having your body weight on your feet all day puts a lot of pressure on your plantar fascia
tissue. Replace your shoes on a regular basis. Buy new shoes when the old ones are worn-out. Make sure your shoes will fit your foot size comfortably at the end of the day. Pay attention to the width
as well as the length. Use good supportive shoes that will help you with your original problem like arch support, motion control, stability, cushioning etc. Stretch regularly as part of your daily
routine. There are a few special stretching techniques for the prevention. Choose soft surfaces for your exercise routine to walk, jog or run on. Rest and elevate your feet every chance you have.
Strengthen your foot muscles as part of your exercise routine. Strong foot muscles provide a good support to the plantar fascia. Change your shoes during the work week. Don't wear the same pair of
shoes every day. Perform Warm up exercises such as a short period of walking, a light jog or other easy movement and then stretch before starting the main exercise. Try to avoid dramatic changes in
your exercise routine. Increase your exercise level gradually. Donât run long distance if you are used to walk. Make the change slowly and gradually. Pay attention to your foot pain, do not ignore
it. Visit your doctor if the pain continues. Avoid the activities that cause you pain. Use over-the-counter Orthotics or inserts that your doctor may prescribe. Off-the-shelf or custom-fitted arch
supports (orthotics) will help distribute pressure to your feet more evenly. Try to avoid barefoot walking, since it may add stress on the plantar fascia ligament.