Planter fasciitis is a painful condition affecting the heel. It is typically the most common cause of heel pain and around 2 million people each year are treated for this condition. The planter fascia is a long thin ligament type structure that runs along the length of the underside of the foot that connects the heel to the front of your foot and helps with support of your foots arches. The condition normally causes a stabbing/sharp type pain that is usually at its worst in the morning as you begin to move. As you get up and move throughout the day the pain normally eases, although it may return after prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
The most common symptoms associated towith planter fasciitis are:
- Pain with the first few step in the morning or pain after long period of inactivity, (sitting, driving) pain normally decreases after a couple minutes of walking
- Pain at the bottom of the foot often near the heel
- Pain will increase after activity or exercises
- Limited upward movement of the ankle
- Tenderness around the bottom of the foot
Ignoring the symptoms of planter fasciitis can result in chronic heal pain that can hinder your everyday activities. It can also change the way you walk as you try to relieve the pain, this can cause back and hip pain. You should get medical attention if your symptoms do not improve after 2/3 days.
The plantar fascia is responsible for supporting the natural position of your foot and its arches. If tension and stress is put through this fascia too often small tears can occur in the fascia. This, with repeated stretching and load, can lead to inflammation and irritation.
Plantar fasciitis is known to develop without an obvious cause, normally the condition develops over a long period of time. There are some factors that can increase your chance of getting the condition.
- Normally those who are aged between 40 and 60 are most commonly found to develop plantar fascia
- Some exercise and sports will put excess stress on the plantar fascia, sports such as long distance running and ballet dancing (moves that involve long period of time on your toes)
- Often those who suffer from flat feet or high arches (abnormal gait) may suffer due to added stress being placed o the planta fascia
- Anyone who’s sport or work involves long period of time walking or standing on hard surfaces are at the highest risk of developing the condition due to the repetitive nature of their work.
Most people who suffer with plantar fasciitis will improve within 10 months of starting a simple treatment programme. Below are the most common methods:
Rest – avoiding activities that increase your symptoms and cause you pain will be the first step to recovery.
Ice- icing the injury several times per day for a maximum of fifteen minutes at a time will help to repair the damaged area of the plantar fascia
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs can be used to reduce the pain and inflammation in the area, using medication for more than one month should be reviewed by a doctor.
Once you visit a health care professional such a physiotherapist, they will give you a programme of exercises to complete that will involve strengthening and stretching to ensure you can return to your normal level of activity