Plantar Fasciitis is a common athletic injury of the foot. While runners are most likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis, any athlete whose sport involves intensive use of the feet may be
vulnerable. The risk of plantar fasciitis increases in athletes who have a particularly high arch, or uneven leg length, though improper biomechanics of the athleteâs gait and simple overuse tend
to be the primary culprits. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis or are seeking to prevent its occurrence it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple
stretches to your fitness program will also help.
Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia can result in microtrauma of this structure either along its course or where it inserts onto the medial calcaneal tuberosity. This microtrauma, if
repetitive, can result in chronic degeneration of the plantar fascia fibers. The loading of the degenerative and healing tissue at the plantar fascia may cause significant plantar pain, particularly
with the first few steps after sleep or other periods of inactivity. The term fasciitis may, in fact, be something of a misnomer, because the disease is actually a degenerative process that occurs
with or without inflammatory changes, which may include fibroblastic proliferation. This has been proven from biopsies of fascia from people undergoing surgery for plantar fascia release.
Plantar fascia usually causes pain and stiffness on the bottom of your heel although some people have heel spurs and suffer no symptoms at all. Occasionally, heel pain is also associated with other
medical disorders such as arthritis (inflammation of the joint), bursitis (inflammation of the tissues around the joint). Those who have symptoms may experience âFirst stepâ pain (stone bruise
sensation) after getting out of bed or sitting for a period of time. Pain after driving. Pain on the bottom of your heel. Deep aching pain. Pain can be worse when barefoot.
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by a health care provider after consideration of a personâs presenting history, risk factors, and clinical examination. Tenderness to palpation along the
inner aspect of the heel bone on the sole of the foot may be elicited during the physical examination. The foot may have limited dorsiflexion due to tightness of the calf muscles or the Achilles
tendon. Dorsiflexion of the foot may elicit the pain due to stretching of the plantar fascia with this motion. Diagnostic imaging studies are not usually needed to diagnose plantar fasciitis.
However, in certain cases a physician may decide imaging studies (such as X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound or MRI) are warranted to rule out other serious causes of foot pain. Bilateral heel pain or
heel pain in the context of a systemic illness may indicate a need for a more in-depth diagnostic investigation. Lateral view x-rays of the ankle are the recommended first-line imaging modality to
assess for other causes of heel pain such as stress fractures or bone spur development. Plantar fascia aponeurosis thickening at the heel greater than 5 millimeters as demonstrated by ultrasound is
consistent with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. An incidental finding associated with this condition is a heel spur, a small bony calcification on the calcaneus (heel bone), which can be found in
up to 50% of those with plantar fasciitis. In such cases, it is the underlying plantar fasciitis that produces the heel pain, and not the spur itself. The condition is responsible for the creation of
the spur though the clinical significance of heel spurs in plantar fasciitis remains unclear.
Non Surgical Treatment
Shoe therapy, finding and wearing shoes that allow your feet to be in their natural position, is the most important treatment for plantar fasciosis. Shoes that possess a flat heel, are wide in the
toe box, lack toe spring, and have flexible soles are most appropriate for this foot problem. An increasing number of shoe companies are producing shoes with these design characteristics, but shoes
that include all these features are still difficult to find. For some suggested footwear models, see our clinicâs shoe list. Most conventional footwear can be modified by stretching the shoeâs
upper, stretching out the toe spring, removing the shoeâs liner, and cutting the shoe at certain key points to allow more room for your foot. Visit your podiatrist to help you with these shoe
modifications. Correct Toes is another helpful conservative treatment method for plantar fasciosis. Correct Toes addresses the root cause of your plantar fasciosis by properly aligning your big toe
and reducing the tension created by your abductor hallucis longus on the blood vessels that feed and "cleanse" the tissues of your plantar fascia. Your plantar fasciosis-related pain will diminish
when the dead tissue is washed away. A rehabilitation program, which includes targeted stretches and other exercises, for your foot may be helpful too. Dietary changes and aerobic exercise are
particularly important for overweight individuals who have plantar fasciosis. Water aerobics may be most appropriate for those individuals whose pain does not allow them to walk or cycle. Physical
therapy may be another helpful treatment modality for this problem, and includes ultrasound, electrical stimulation, contrast baths, and range-of-motion exercises. Massage, acupuncture, reflexology,
and magnet therapy are holistic approaches that may be helpful.
Surgery is usually not needed for plantar fasciitis. About 95 out of 100 people who have plantar fasciitis are able to relieve heel pain without surgery. Your doctor may consider surgery if
non-surgical treatment has not helped and heel pain is restricting your daily activities. Some doctors feel that you should try non-surgical treatment for at least 6 months before you consider
surgery. The main types of surgery for plantar fasciitis are Plantar fascia release. This procedure involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament . This releases the tension on the ligament
and relieves inflammation . Other procedures, such as removing a heel spur or stretching or loosening specific foot nerves. These surgeries are usually done in combination with plantar fascia release
when there is lasting heel pain and another heel problem. Experts in the past thought that heel spurs caused plantar fasciitis. Now experts generally believe that heel spurs are the result, not the
cause, of plantar fasciitis. Many people with large heel spurs never have heel pain or plantar fasciitis. So surgery to remove heel spurs is rarely done.
The following exercises are commonly prescribed to patients with this condition. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally,
they should be performed 2 - 3 times daily and only provided they do not cause or increase symptoms. Your physiotherapist can advise when it is appropriate to begin the initial exercises and
eventually progress to the intermediate and advanced exercises. As a general rule, addition of exercises or progression to more advanced exercises should take place provided there is no increase in
symptoms. Calf Stretch with Towel. Begin this stretch in long sitting with your leg to be stretched in front of you. Your knee and back should be straight and a towel or rigid band placed around your
foot as demonstrated. Using your foot, ankle and the towel, bring your toes towards your head until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf, Achilles tendon, plantar fascia or leg. Hold for 5
seconds and repeat 10 times at a mild to moderate stretch provided the exercise is pain free. Resistance Band Calf Strengthening. Begin this exercise with a resistance band around your foot as
demonstrated and your foot and ankle held up towards your head. Slowly move your foot and ankle down against the resistance band as far as possible and comfortable without pain, tightening your calf
muscle. Very slowly return back to the starting position. Repeat 10 - 20 times provided the exercise is pain free.