A Guide to Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an injury that can occur in one foot or both feet. Typically, it is characterized by stabbing or burning pain that is usually felt more towards the heel although the entire sole of your foot may be affected.
Getting out of bed, standing for long periods, rising up from a seated position, or climbing up a flight of stairs are some of the factors that trigger plantar fasciitis pain.
Such physical activities only trigger inflammation and pain in an already weak plantar fascia, the bowstring-like band of tissue on the sole of your foot. Runners mostly suffer this injury but it can also affect people who are on their feet a lot as well as overweight individuals.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia functions as a shock-absorbing ligament that supports the arch and other structures in your foot. But, when put under too much tension or stress, it develops small tears. Repetitive tissue scaring from excessive walking or running eventually weakens the plantar fascia, causing it to get irritated, inflamed and sore. You can strain this ligament after:
- Standing on a hard surface for several hours on-end
- Walking excessively
- Running too much or hard
- Wearing improperly fitting footwear or those that provide inadequate arch support
- Landing badly on your feet after jumping
Sometimes, medical conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis and reactive arthritis may cause plantar fasciitis. What’s more, people who have flat feet, a high or low arch, as well as a tight or damaged Achilles tendon are more susceptible to develop plantar fasciitis injuries.
Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis
Many conditions can cause foot pain. Therefore, proper diagnosis is required in order to prescribe the correct treatment for plantar fasciitis.
Usually, a simple physical exam and description of activities that trigger foot pain symptoms are enough to diagnose this injury. If that alone does not help to make a proper diagnosis, your doctor may order a foot x-ray or ultrasound to rule out other causes of foot pain. Imaging tests should be able to reveal a heal spur, which is a bony protrusion that develops when an inflamed plantar fascia attaches itself to the heel bone.
Treatment and Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis
The ideal plantar fasciitis treatment varies for every individual.
For instance, if there is an underlying inflammatory disease associated with this foot injury, then it must be treated to eliminate pain. In most cases, this repetitive strain injury is treated using a combination of stretching exercises and local ice massage.
Over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen or cortisone injections may also provide some relief. Your doctor can prescribe off-the-shelf or custom fitted shoe inserts (orthotics), which will facilitate healing by ensuring that pressure is evenly distributed on your feet when wearing shoes.
Chronic plantar fasciitis may require treatment through exponential shock wave therapy to stimulate healing or removal of the scar tissue, which calls for a minimally invasive Tenex procedure.
It can take months or even a year to for plantar fasciitis to fully heal. When all conventional methods fail, surgery may be sought as a last option.
If you suspect that you have plantar fasciitis, do not disregard it hopping that the pain will go away over time.
When left untreated, this condition can worsen and cause more serious damage that makes walking painful. Individuals that suffer from recurring bouts of this injury can also prevent it using simple methods such as wearing footwear with good cushioning and arch support, using night splints, maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening the foot muscles through exercise or applying regular ice massages.