Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition causing heel pain and many people with the condition also have heel spurs. It affects the band of tissue (plantar fascia) that supports the middle part of the
foot and runs along the sole of the foot from the heel to the ball of the foot. Usually the plantar fascia is strong and flexible but due to certain factors it can become irritated and inflamed where
the plantar fascia joins the bone in the foot. Heel spurs occur when there's constant pulling of the fascia at the heel bone. This leads to a bony growth or spur. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis
are pain in the arch of the foot or heel. This pain is usually worse in the morning after rest when the plantar fascia tightens and shortens. Heel spurs cause a stabbing pain at the bottom or front
of the heel bone.
Plantar fasciitis is usually not the result of a single event but more commonly the result of a history of repetitive micro trauma combined with a biomechanical deficiency of the foot. Arthritic
changes and metabolic factors may also playa part in this injury but are unlikely in a young athletic population. The final cause of plantar fasciitis is "training errors." In all likelihood the
injury is the result of a combination of biomechanical deficiencies and training errors. Training errors are responsible for up to 60% of all athletic injuries (Ambrosius 1992). The most frequent
training error seen with plantar fasciitis is a rapid increase in volume (miles or time run) or intensity (pace and/or decreased recovery). Training on improper surfaces, a highly crowned road,
excessive track work in spiked shoes, plyometrics on hard runways or steep hill running, can compromise the plantar fascia past elastic limits. A final training error seen in athletics is with a
rapid return to some preconceived fitness level. Remembering what one did "last season" while forgetting the necessity of preparatory work is part of the recipe for injury. Metabolic and arthritic
changes are a less likely cause of plantar fasciitis among athletes. Bilateral foot pain may indicate a metabolic or systemic problem. The definitive diagnosis in this case is done by a professional
with blood tests and possibly x-rays.
The most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel, pain with the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning, or after a long period of
rest, such as after a long car ride. The pain subsides after a few minutes of walking. Greater pain after (not during) exercise or activity.
A health care professional will ask you whether you have the classic symptoms of first-step pain and about your activities, including whether you recently have intensified your training or changed
your exercise pattern. Your doctor often can diagnose plantar fasciitis based on your history and symptoms, together with a physical examination. If the diagnosis is in doubt, your doctor may order a
foot X-ray, bone scan or nerve conduction studies to rule out another condition, such as a stress fracture or nerve problem.
Non Surgical Treatment
As with most soft tissue injuries the initial treatment is Rest, Ice, and Protection. In the early phase youâll most likely be unable to walk pain-free. Our first aim is to provide you with some
active rest from pain-provoking foot postures. This means that you should stop doing any movement or activity that provoked your foot pain in the first place. Ice is a simple and effective modality
to reduce your pain and swelling. Please apply for 20-30 minutes each 2 to 4 hours during the initial phase or when you notice that your injury is warm or hot. A frozen water bottle can provide you
with a ice foot roller that can simultaneously provide you with some gentle plantar fascia massage. Anti-inflammatory medication (if tolerated) and natural substances eg arnica may help reduce your
pain and swelling. However, it is best to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs during the initial 48 to 72 hours when they may encourage additional bleeding. Most people can tolerate paracetamol as a pain
reducing medication. To support and protect your plantar fascia, you may need to be wear a plantar fascia brace, heel cups or have your foot taped to provide pain relief. As mentioned earlier, the
cause of your plantar fasciitis will determine what works best for you. Your physiotherapist will guide you. Your physiotherapist will guide you and utilise a range of pain relieving techniques
including joint mobilisations for stiff joints, massage, electrotherapy, acupuncture or dry needling to assist you during this pain-full phase.
Surgery is considered only after 12 months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment. Gastrocnemius recession. This is a surgical lengthening of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles. Because tight calf muscles
place increased stress on the plantar fascia, this procedure is useful for patients who still have difficulty flexing their feet, despite a year of calf stretches. In gastrocnemius recession, one of
the two muscles that make up the calf is lengthened to increase the motion of the ankle. The procedure can be performed with a traditional, open incision or with a smaller incision and an endoscope,
an instrument that contains a small camera. Your doctor will discuss the procedure that best meets your needs. Complication rates for gastrocnemius recession are low, but can include nerve damage.
Plantar fascia release. If you have a normal range of ankle motion and continued heel pain, your doctor may recommend a partial release procedure. During surgery, the plantar fascia ligament is
partially cut to relieve tension in the tissue. If you have a large bone spur, it will be removed, as well. Although the surgery can be performed endoscopically, it is more difficult than with an
open incision. In addition, endoscopy has a higher risk of nerve damage.
More than with most sports injuries, a little bit of prevention can go a long way toward keeping you free from plantar fasciitis. Here are some tips to follow. Wear supportive shoes that fit you
well. When your shoes start to show wear and can no longer give your feet the support they need, it's time to get a new pair. Runners should stop using their old shoes after about 500 miles of use.
Have a trained professional at a specialty running store help you find the right pair for your foot type, and then keep your shoes tied and snug when you wear them. Stay in good shape. By keeping
your weight in check, you'll reduce the amount of stress on your feet. Stretch your calves and feet before you exercise or play a sport. Ask an athletic trainer or sports medicine specialist to show
you some dynamic stretching exercises. Start any new activity or exercise slowly and increase the duration and intensity of the activity gradually. Don't go out and try to run 10 miles the first time
you go for a jog. Build up to that level of exercise gradually. Talk to your doctor about getting heel pads, custom shoe inserts, or orthotics to put in your shoes. Foot supports can help cushion
your feet and distribute your weight more evenly. This is especially true for people with high arches or flat feet. Your doctor will be able to tell you if shoe inserts and supports might lower your
chances of heel injury.