Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you
strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk. Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people.
It also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes or soldiers. It can happen in one foot or both feet.
The cause of plantar fasciitis is poorly understood and is thought to likely have several contributing factors. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that originates from
the medial tubercle and anterior aspect of the heel bone. From there, the fascia extends along the sole of the foot before inserting at the base of the toes, and supports the arch of the foot.
Originally, plantar fasciitis was believed to be an inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia. However, within the last decade, studies have observed microscopic anatomical changes indicating that
plantar fasciitis is actually due to a non-inflammatory structural breakdown of the plantar fascia rather than an inflammatory process. Due to this shift in thought about the underlying mechanisms in
plantar fasciitis, many in the academic community have stated the condition should be renamed plantar fasciosis. The structural breakdown of the plantar fascia is believed to be the result of
repetitive microtrauma (small tears). Microscopic examination of the plantar fascia often shows myxomatous degeneration, connective tissue calcium deposits, and disorganized collagen fibers.
Disruptions in the plantar fasciaâs normal mechanical movement during standing and walking (known as the Windlass mechanism) are thought to contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis by
placing excess strain on the calcaneal tuberosity.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain on the bottom of the heel, pain in the arch of the foot, pain that is usually worse upon arising, pain that increases over a period of months. People with
plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after theyâve been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain decreases, because
walking stretches the fascia. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.
During the physical exam, your doctor checks for points of tenderness in your foot. The location of your pain can help determine its cause. Usually no tests are necessary. The diagnosis is made based
on the history and physical examination. Occasionally your doctor may suggest an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to make sure your pain isn't being caused by another problem, such as a
stress fracture or a pinched nerve. Sometimes an X-ray shows a spur of bone projecting forward from the heel bone. In the past, these bone spurs were often blamed for heel pain and removed
surgically. But many people who have bone spurs on their heels have no heel pain.
Non Surgical Treatment
Biomechanical plantar fasciitis can be easily reduced by correcting misalignment of the feet. Wearing orthopedic shoes for plantar fasciitis and orthotic inserts is an easy, effective method of
naturally realigning the foot. Worn consistently from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, orthotic support can reduce and sometimes eliminate plantar fasciitis. Biomechanical plantar
fasciitis can be easily reduced by correcting misalignment of the feet. Wearing orthopedic shoes for plantar fasciitis and orthotic inserts is an easy, effective method of naturally realigning the
foot. Worn consistently from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, orthotic support can reduce and sometimes eliminate plantar fasciitis. Preserve Your Arch with Strengthening Exercises.
While seated and barefoot, squeeze your foot as if you have a small marble under the ball of your foot. If you just happen to have a few marbles handy, you can actually practice picking them up
between your toes and ball of your foot - and then set them down again. This stretches and helps strengthen the muscles that run under metatarsals (the longest bones in the foot which create its
arched shape). Slowly Increase Physical Activity. If you're a runner, a tried and true method of preventing over-use injuries is to only increase your mileage by 10% weekly, max. If youâre new to a
walking program, the same caution should be exercised. Ice and Rest. After mild stretching, use a frozen water bottle to roll under the arch of your foot for 10-20 minutes. It may be possible to make
an active recovery by wearing Orthaheel Technology to keep your feet naturally aligned, therefore reducing strain on the plantar fascia, while moving throughout your day.
Most studies indicate that 95% of those afflicted with plantar fasciitis are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don't improve
with other treatments, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and
relieve the inflammation of the ligament. Overall, the success rate of surgical release is 70 to 90 percent in patients with plantar fasciitis. While the success rate is very high following surgery,
one should be aware that there is often a prolonged postoperative period of discomfort similar to the discomfort experienced prior to surgery. This pain usually will abate within 2-3 months. One
should always be sure to understand all the risks associated with any surgery they are considering.