Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. The hallmark of the condition consists of a stabbing pain that you typically feel from very first step in the morning. Even though the pain will subside once your leg limbers up, it will return if you stand up after sitting for prolonged periods.
Causes of plantar fasciitis
The plantar fascia’s main role is to act as a shock absorbent bowstring that supports the strain and stress placed on the foot. In spite of its flexibility and resilience, exposure to too much pressure will eventually cause damage and tears. When injured, the connective tissue becomes inflamed causing pain and stiffness in the heel.
In most cases, the cause of the inflammation is indefinable. However, the medical community agrees on several risk factors that can influence the development of the plantar fasciitis, namely:
- Obesity: Excess weight will put more pressure and strain on the plantar fascia.
- Certain types of physical exercises: Aerobics, ballet, and running are all activities that put a lot of stress on the heel as well as the attached tissue. Moreover, practicing these sports could contribute to an early onset of the condition.
- Wearing improper shoes: More exactly, shoes that don’t provide enough arch support as well as footwear that is loose or has a thin sole doesn’t provide enough padding to absorb shock. Furthermore, wearing high heels regularly contracts and shortens the Achilles tendon and eventually causes strain on the tissue around the heel.
- Foot mechanics: Flat foot, tighter calf muscles, a high arch, or even an abnormal gait pattern all influence how your weight is distributed while standing up or walking.
- Age: The condition is prevalent in individuals between 40 and 60 years old.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis usually develop gradually and comprise of:
- A stabbing sensation at the bottom of the foot
- Aggravating pain when trying to walk
- Increasing pain after exercise and activity
Treatments of plantar fasciitis
The good news is that around 90% of the patients with plantar fasciitis recover in just a few months after undergoing conservative treatments, which may include:
- Applying ice three to four times per day
- Physical therapy
- Wearing a night splint
- Wearing a custom-fit arch support
In the eventuality that the non-invasive treatments don’t provide any results, after 12 months the physician could recommend any of the following options:
- Gastrocnemius recession
The surgery aims to lengthen the calf muscle, which is especially effective for patients who have a hard time flexing their feet, despite following a non-surgical treatment for months.
- Plantar fascia release
For patients who are able to perform a full array of motions, but continue to feel pain in the heel area, the physician could recommend a plantar fascia release. The surgical procedure implies cutting the ligament to relieve tension in the tissue.
- Extracorporeal shock wave therapy
The procedure implies using a special utensil that sends sound waves to the painful area and promotes healing. Because it didn’t prove to be consistently effective and comes with several side effects, this is usually recommended as a last resort.