Plantar Fasciitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an extremely common source of heel pain in the general population, even though it is more likely in runners or persons that are overweight.

Simply put, running underneath the soles of your feet is a thick band of tissue (known as the plantar fascia) that connects your heel to your toes. Plantar fasciitis refers to pain originating in this area, causing discomfort, and affecting your mobility.

Owing to the amount of stress these ligaments take on a daily basis, it is not that uncommon for you to experience symptoms of plantar fasciitis at some point in your life.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The first indication that something is wrong is pain originating at the heel, but also running through the length of the soles of your feet. It is incorrect to state that plantar fasciitis causes pain at the location of the heel only, as many persons with plantar fasciitis may also experience pain in the midsole area.

Other commonly associated symptoms include:

  • Difficulty With Walking Or Running

Inflammation of the plantar fascia will result in tenderness when you attempt to walk. It is also triggered when walking longer distances, or after standing on your feet for a prolonged period of time.

In a similar manner, you are likely to feel symptoms oftentimes upon waking when attempting to take your first steps, but which usually get better after you’ve been on your feet for a couple minutes.

  • Increased Temperature On The Soles Of Your Feet

The bottom of your feet may feel warmer than usual, which is a relatively normal association with inflammatory processes.

  • Inability To Flex Toes

Occasionally, the pain may be so severe that you are unable to flex or extend your toes appropriately. This is not the result of a structural abnormality, but inflammatory processes that may make it extremely difficult to move toes as you see fit.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

The bottom line cause of plantar fasciitis is as a result of inflammation or damage to the plantar fascia, which effectively acts as a shock absorber for the body, being subject to heavy torsional stresses following repeated use activities (think of jumping or running).

Over time, this fascia may develop tiny microscopic tears, which if not allowed time to heal properly, worsen and become inflamed.

The most common findings that are associated with greater causation of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Your Age

Plantar fasciitis is most commonly diagnosed in the 40 to 60 age range. This is likely because as you age, your body’s recuperative ability diminishes, causing structural defects or damage to connective tissue to become more prominent. This is especially true if you push her body too hard as you get older.

  • Your Weight

Your body weight relative to your skeletal mass (or height) is a strong contributing factor to the development of plantar fasciitis. To put this into perspective, imagine you have a rubber band which can easily supports a 500 g weight upon it. If you double the weight, the rubber band snaps. This is the same principle by which obesity can adversely cause damage to the plantar fascia.

  • Your Job

Persons that have jobs that keep them on their feet for multiple hours per day, think of construction workers, fabricators and even teachers – these professions increase pressure on the plantar fascia, and increase the likelihood of damage occurring.

It is important to take pressure off of these ligaments when possible, but not if it means becoming sedentary.

  • Your Foot Mechanics

Your feet supports the body the way a tripod stands; there are basically three pressure points that help to maintain balance. You have undoubtedly observed that persons tend to exert pressure more on one of these points over the other two, which is why footwear appears worn on one side before the other.

This increases pressure on the plantar fascia in one direction specifically, which coincides with the area are more likely to feel pain. Other structural differences with your foot, such as having a deep arch, being flat-footed, or an abnormal gait can also increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

  • Medical Conditions

Medical conditions that are associated with increased inflammatory responses are also associated with earlier onset of plantar fasciitis. The autoimmune disorders and lupus are common causes of plantar fasciitis.

Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

Luckily, most times when plantar fasciitis occurs it is acute in nature, meaning that the pain occurs rapidly, but usually resolves with minimal intervention and rest. In other cases, a more active approach can also help to improve your mobility and reduce the frequency and severity of pain you experience.

Common Treatment approaches include:

NSAID Medications

These can commonly be purchased over-the-counter at your local supermarket or pharmacy. They help to reduce acute instances of pain, as well as inflammation. However, long-term use is discouraged as they carry with them their own risk of adverse effects.

Corticosteroids

These exert potent anti-inflammatory actions that can assist with resolution of the condition altogether. Coupled with rest and painkillers, this approach may be sufficient to get you back on your feet.

Orthotics

Orthotics is a branch of medical device science that deals with insoles custom made to the arches of your feet that reduce pressure on pressure points and reduce the likelihood of you developing plantar fasciitis as a result.

Custom insoles are also extremely helpful for dealing with any sort of heel pain owing to uneven distribution of weight on your feet.

Physical Therapy

By using a combination of stretches, exercises and massages, a skilled therapist can assist with stabilization techniques that reduce pressure on the soles of your feet. Athletic taping is another common approach that can reduce the impact running has on your plantar fascia, and is an approach long-distance runners already employ to safeguard the health of your feet.

Night Splints

These splints stretch the plantar fascia, helping you achieve lengthening while you sleep. This helps to reduce tightness of Achilles tendon, and is one way that positively benefits the plantar fascia.

Night splints are best suited to persons who may have structural abnormalities with the soles of your feet that cause pain upon walking.

Surgery

Often reserved for persons with severe pain or in whom other therapies have failed, it may involve complete separation of the fascia from the bones of the heel, either permanently or temporary, or removal of scar tissue formed as a result of chronic inflammation that may lead to impaired mobility.

Conclusion

Even though plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of heel pain in adults, it is most certainly livable with, and can be resolved or avoided completely in many instances.

Be sure to alternate long periods off standing or sitting with the opposite, try to achieve a healthy weight for height, choose well- fitting shoes, and if you run be sure to allow recuperation by applying ice and regularly scheduled massages.

These interventions can all help reduce the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis, safeguarding your mobility well into your old age.

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