Plantar Fasciitis is the most common condition of heel pain. This condition occurs when the long fibrous plantar fascia ligament along the bottom of the foot develops tears in the tissue resulting in
pain and inflammation. The pain of plantar fasciitis is usually located close to where the fascia attaches to the calcaneous, also known as the heel bone. The condition is often misspelled as:
plantar fascitis, plantar fasciatis, planters fasciitis, plantar faciatis, and plantar faciaitis. Plantar fasciitis causes the inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament which runs along the bottom
of the foot. The plantar fascia ligament is made of fibrous bands of tissue and runs between the heel bone and your toes and stretches with every step. Inflammation develops when tears occur in the
tissue. The most common complaint from plantar fasciitis is a burning, stabbing, or aching pain in the heel of the foot. Most sufferers will be able to feel it in the morning because the fascia
ligament tightens up during the night while we sleep, causing pain to diminish. However, when we climb out of bed and place pressure on the ligament, it becomes taut and pain is particularly acute.
Pain usually decreases as the tissue warms up, but may easily return again after long periods of standing or weight bearing, physical activity, or after getting up after long periods of lethargy or
sitting down. In most cases, plantar fasciitis does not require surgery or invasive procedures to stop pain and reverse damage. Conservative treatments are usually all that is required. However,
every person's body responds to plantar fasciitis treatment differently and recovery times may vary.
Although plantar fasciitis may result from a variety of factors, such as repeat hill workouts and/or tight calves, many sports specialists claim the most common cause for plantar fasciitis is fallen
arches. The theory is that excessive lowering of the arch in flat-footed runners inÂcreases tension in the plantar fascia and overloadÂs the attachment of the plantar fascia on the heel bone (i.e.,
the calcaneus). Over time, the repeated pulling of the plantar fascia associated with excessive arch lowering is thought to lead to chronic pain and inflammation at the plantar fasciaâs attachment
to the heel. In fact, the increased tension on the heel was believed to be so great that it was thought to eventually result in the formation of a heel spur.
Plantar fasciitis is usually found in one foot. While bilateral plantar fasciitis is not unheard of, this condition is more the result of a systemic arthritic condition that is extremely rare in an
athletic population. There is a greater incidence of plantar fasciitis in males than females (Ambrosius 1992). While no direct cause could be found it could be argued that males are generally heavier
which, when combined with the greater speeds, increased ground contact forces, and less flexibility, may explain the greater injury predisposition. The most notable characteristic of plantar
fasciitis is pain upon rising, particularly the first step out of bed. This morning pain can be located with pinpoint accuracy at the bony landmark on the anterior medial tubercle of the calcaneus.
The pain may be severe enough to prevent the athlete from walking barefooted in a normal heel-toe gait. Other less common presentations include referred pain to the subtalar joint, the forefoot, the
arch of the foot or the achilles tendon (Brantingham 1992). After several minutes of walking the pain usually subsides only to re turn with the vigorous activity of the day's training session. The
problem should be obvious to the coach as the athlete will exhibit altered gait and/ or an abnormal stride pattern, and may complain of foot pain during running/jumping activities. Consistent with
plantar fascia problems the athlete will have a shortened gastroc complex. This can be evidenced by poor dorsiflexion (lifting the forefoot off the ground) or inability to perform the "flying frog"
position. In the flying frog the athlete goes into a full squat position and maintains balance and full ground contact with the sole of the foot. Elevation of the heel signifies a tight gastroc
complex. This test can be done with the training shoes on.
A health care professional will ask you whether you have the classic symptoms of first-step pain and about your activities, including whether you recently have intensified your training or changed
your exercise pattern. Your doctor often can diagnose plantar fasciitis based on your history and symptoms, together with a physical examination. If the diagnosis is in doubt, your doctor may order a
foot X-ray, bone scan or nerve conduction studies to rule out another condition, such as a stress fracture or nerve problem.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following recommendations are appropriate. Wear shoes with adequate arch support and cushioned heels; discard old running shoes and wear new ones; rotate work shoes daily. Avoid long periods of
standing. Lose weight. Stretch the plantar fascia and warm up the lower extremity before participating in exercise. For increased flexibility, stretch the plantar fascia and the calf after exercise.
Do not exercise on hard surfaces. Avoid walking barefooted on hard surfaces. Avoid high-impact sports that require a great deal of jumping (eg, aerobics and volleyball). Apply ice for 20 minutes
after repetitive impact-loading activities and at the end of the day. Limit repetitive impact-loading activities such as running to every other day, and consider rest or cross-training for nonrunning
Like every surgical procedure, plantar fasciitis surgery carries some risks. Because of these risks your doctor will probably advise you to continue with the conventional treatments at least 6 months
before giving you approval for surgery. Some health experts recommend home treatment as long as 12 months. If you canât work because of your heel pain, canât perform your everyday activities or
your athletic career is in danger, you may consider a plantar fasciitis surgery earlier. But keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the pain will go away completely after surgery. Surgery is
effective in many cases, however, 20 to 25 percent of patients continue to experience heel pain after having a plantar fasciitis surgery.
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.