Are you suffering from heel pain?
Is it painful to walk the first few steps in the morning?
Is it sore after rest?
You may have plantar fasciitis. Don’t ignore this pain, hoping it will go away, as it usually gets worse without treatment. In this article on Plantar Fasciitis, we’ll look at the symptoms and causes of this condition.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
It is an inflammation and swelling of a thick band of tissue which runs along the sole of the foot, called the plantar fascia. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain. The plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch of the foot. If tension and stress on this becomes too much, it can lead to the development of small tears, causing irritation and inflammation. Pain may occur either where it inserts into the base of the heel bone causing heel pain, or along the sole of the foot between the heel and the toes. Plantar fasciitis can lead to intense, chronic heel pain if the cause of the pain is not addressed, with the severity varying person to person.
How Is It Caused?
The most common cause is excessive pronation (fallen arches) where the foot rolls inward too much when walking and running. During pronation, the foot flattens and becomes unstable, which stretches the plantar fascia, putting huge stress at the area where the tissue inserts into the heel bone and so causing pain. In some cases, the pain worsens over a period of time, while others have a sudden onset. Running is a high impact activity, which requires a lot of shock absorption and therefore puts the plantar fascia under pressure. However, you don’t have to be an athlete to develop this condition.
What Are The Risk Factors?
• Age – most common between the ages of 40 and 70 – particularly in those who are more active.
• Poor footwear – shoes which lack support around the heel and arch area, with thin, over flexible soles can lead to plantar fasciitis, as the feet are not supported, causing stress on the plantar fascia. Loose fitting and non-shock absorbing footwear such as flip flops provide inadequate foot protection and support.
• High impact activities – running, dancing, jumping activities put a lot of pressure on the soles of the feet.
• Foot type and mechanics – a flat foot, high arch, or pronation (fallen arches) can affect the weight distribution and can put too much strain on the plantar fascia.
• Tight, shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendon – when the calf muscles and Achilles’ tendon are tight and tender, it usually means the plantar fascia is also very tight and not functioning as it should. You can undertake a stretching programme to combat this.
• Weight – excess pounds overload the plantar fascia, especially after sudden weight gain.
• Pregnancy – women can experience episodes of plantar fasciitis, especially during the late stages of pregnancy as swelling can occur and footwear can be an issue.
• Occupation – healthcare workers, teachers, waiters, chefs and others who spend the majority of their time walking or standing on hard surfaces are more prone to plantar fasciitis.
What Are The Symptoms?
Plantar fasciitis commonly causes a sharp, stabbing pain at the inner part of the bottom of the heel, sometimes extending into the arch of the foot. This pain usually occurs with the first few steps in the morning when getting out of bed. Swelling may occur but is not always present. As the fascia stretches as you walk, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases. The pain may reoccur after long periods of standing or when getting up after periods of rest. The pain may be worse after exercise; it is not usually experienced during the activity itself.
Barefoot walking should be avoided, particularly on hard surfaces such as tiles, as this can worsen the condition. Changing the way you walk to reduce plantar fasciitis pain should be avoided, as it might lead to foot, ankle, knee, hip or back issues. Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic, long term heel pain which impacts on day to day activities.
At ProMed Podiatry we have developed a specific treatment protocol which can be individually tailored to your specific needs and lifestyle. Your foot health is our priority – contact our clinic today to start the road to recovery!