The Plantar Fascia is a broad, thick band of tissue that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot. Through overuse the fascia can become inflamed and painful at its attachment to the heel
bone or calcaneus. The condition is traditionally thought to be inflammation, however this is now believed to be incorrect due to the absence of inflammatory cells within the fascia. The cause of
pain is thought to be degeneration of the collagen fibres close to the attachment to the heel bone.
There are a number of plantar fasciitis causes. The plantar fascia ligament is like a rubber band and loosens and contracts with movement. It also absorbs significant weight and pressure. Because of
this function, plantar fasciitis can easily occur from a number of reasons. Among the most common is an overload of physical activity or exercise. Athletes are particularly prone to plantar fasciitis
and commonly suffer from it. Excessive running, jumping, or other activities can easily place repetitive or excessive stress on the tissue and lead to tears and inflammation, resulting in moderate to
severe pain. Athletes who change or increase the difficulty of their exercise routines are also prone to overdoing it and causing damage. Another common cause of plantar fasciitis is arthritis.
Certain types of arthritis can cause inflammation to develop in tendons, resulting in plantar fasciitis. This cause is particularly common among elderly patients. Diabetes is also a factor that can
contribute to further heel pain and damage, particularly among the elderly. Among the most popular factors that contribute to plantar fasciitis is wearing incorrect shoes. In many cases, shoes either
do not fit properly, or provide inadequate support or cushioning. While walking or exercising in improper shoes, weight distribution becomes impaired, and significantly stress can be added to the
plantar fascia ligament.
Most people with plantar fasciitis have pain when they take their first steps after they get out of bed or sit for a long time. You may have less stiffness and pain after you take a few steps. But
your foot may hurt more as the day goes on. It may hurt the most when you climb stairs or after you stand for a long time. If you have foot pain at night, you may have a different problem, such as
arthritis, or a nerve problem such as tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Plantar fasciitis is one of many conditions causing "heel pain". Some other possible causes include nerve compression either in the foot or in the back, stress fracture of the calcaneus, and loss of
the fatty tissue pad under the heel. Plantar fasciitis can be distinguished from these and other conditions based on a history and examination done by a physician. It should be noted that heel spurs
are often inappropriately thought to be the sole cause of heel pain. In fact, heel spurs are common and are nothing more than the bone's response to traction or pulling-type forces from the plantar
fascia and other muscles in the foot where they attach to the heel bone. They are commonly present in patients without pain, and frequently absent from those who have pain. It is the rare patient who
has a truly enlarged and problematic spur requiring surgery.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment for plantar fasciitis should begin with rest, icing, and over the counter medications. As mentioned above, an orthotic is a device that can be slipped into any pair of shoes and can often
relieve pain and help to reverse the damage and occurrence of plantar fasciitis. They do this by adding support to the heel and helping to distribute weight during movement. In addition to orthotics,
many people consider night splints for treating this condition. These devices are worn during the night while you sleep, helping to keep the plantar fascia stretched to promote healing. Physical
therapy has also become a common option. With this conservative treatment alternative, a physical therapist designs a set of exercises that are intended to address your specific needs in order to
Surgery for plantar fasciitis can be very successful in the right patients. While there are potential complications, about 70-80% of patients will find relief after plantar fascia release surgery.
This may not be perfect, but if plantar fasciitis has been slowing you down for a year or more, it may well be worth these potential risks of surgery. New surgical techniques allow surgery to release
the plantar fascia to be performed through small incisions using a tiny camera to locate and cut the plantar fascia. This procedure is called an endoscopic plantar fascia release. Some surgeons are
concerned that the endoscopic plantar fascia release procedure increases the risk of damage to the small nerves of the foot. While there is no definitive answer that this endoscopic plantar fascia
release is better or worse than a traditional plantar fascia release, most surgeons still prefer the traditional approach.
Stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia are recommend to relieve pain and aid in the healing process. Sometimes application of athletic tape is recommended. In moderate or
severe cases of plantar fasciitis, your doctor may recommend you wearing a night splint, which will stretch the arch of your foot and calf while you sleep. This helps to lengthen the Achilles tendon
and plantar fascia for symptom relief. Depending on the severity of your plantar fasciitis, your physician may prescribe a store-bought orthotic (arch support) or custom-fitted orthotic to help
distribute your foot pressure more evenly.