Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes pain in the foot. It is caused by overuse of a tendon in the foot called the plantar fascia. This tendon is also known as the arch tendon. It is a thick band of tissue that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot.
Over-stretching of the plantar fascia tendon causes it to thicken and lose flexibility and strength. Some causes of this over-stretching can include having high or low arches in the feet, wearing shoes that do not adequately support the arches and being overweight. Foothealthfacs.org, “Heel Pain”.
Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis results in pain around the origin of the attachment of the plantar fascia tendon. These areas include the arch of the foot, under the heel and the inside or medial area of the foot. The pain is usually worse just after sleeping because the tendon becomes tight when not moving.
As the muscles and tendon warm up, the pain may ease. If the condition is severe, the pain can get worse throughout the day with activity and exercise. It may be painful to flex and stretch the foot. Sometimes a person will walk on the outside border of the foot to minimize the medial foot pain. This can then create pain on the outside of the heel.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Treatment for plantar fasciitis is focused on resting the foot so that the tendon can heal. Since most people cannot stay off of their feet for months at a time, there are ways that the foot can be immobilized so that it can get the rest that it needs.
One method that will help immobilize the foot is called plantar fasciitis taping. Tape is applied to the foot in strips across the plantar fascia, taking the stress off of the foot so that the foot can rest and heal.
Another immobilizer is a night splint. The doctor may recommend this type of boot to be worn during sleep. It will hold the plantar fascia and other tendons in a lengthened position so that they can be stretched and be more loose in the morning.
Another type of immobilizer is a removable walking cast. This is much like a hard and stiff boot that is used to keep the foot from moving for the weeks that it is taking to heal.
A doctor or podiatrist may also recommend orthotics. These are inserts that go into the shoes so pressure is more evenly distributed. Orthotics can be purchased over-the-counter or the doctor may prescribe custom-fitted orthotics. Mayoclinic.com, “Plantar Fasciitis”.
Another focus of treatment is on relief of pain symptoms. The doctor may recommend medication therapy for pain, physical therapy or ice therapy. Medications that relieve pain and inflammation should be discussed with the doctor. Along with oral medications, some medications can be given by injection.
Physical therapy can provide other types of pain relief measures and low or no impact exercises that will help with range of motion and stretching while the foot is getting better. When a person has experienced plantar fasciitis, they may want to learn ways to modify their activity in order to prevent recurrence of the condition. They want to learn ways to strengthen lower legs so that the ankles and heels are more stabilized.
Cold therapy is the placing of ice on the affected area to help reduce pain and inflammation. This can be applied regularly until the pain has resolved.