Plantar Fasciitis

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Plantar Fasciitis

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Plantar Fascitis

What is Plantar Fascitiis?

The Plantar Fascia is a broad, thick band of tissue that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot. This tissue helps support the arch of your foot. Injury to the fascia may cause it to become inflamed.  The most common complaint from plantar fasciitis is a burning, stabbing, or aching pain in the heel of the foot. Most sufferers will be able to feel it in the morning because the fascia tightens up during the night while we sleep. The plantar fascia is like a rubber band and loosens and contracts with movement. It also absorbs significant weight and pressure.

How does it occur?  Plantar Fasciitis can be caused by:

  • An overload of physical activity or exercise
  • Tight calf muscles or achilles tendon
  • Excessive running, jumping, or other activities can easily place repetitive or excessive stress on the tissue and lead to tears and inflammation
  • Wearing incorrect shoes, that either do not fit properly, or provide inadequate support or cushioning
  • Having conditions such as flat feet, high arches, over-pronation (a problem where your feet roll inward and flatten out more than normal), or having an abnormal gait (the way in which the foot hits the ground), the fascia tissue can become overworked or stretched abnormally.
  • Misalignments of the foot, ankle, hip or spine

What are the symptoms?  The most common signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis include: 

  • heel pain (usually on the inside)
  • pain when pressing along the arch of the foot
  • Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning as the fascia tightens up overnight.  After a few minutes it eases as the foot gets warmed up

How is it diagnosed?

Your health care provider will examine your foot, looking for tenderness and swelling.  Your provider will watch your feet when you walk or run to see if you over-pronate and also check for misalignments in your foot, ankle and spine.  He or she will also ask you questions about your symptoms, such as where the pain is, what time of day your foot hurts most, how active you are and what types of physical activity you do.  Your doctor may also take an X-ray of your foot if he or she suspects a problem with the bones of your foot.                       

How is it treated?

  • To reduce pain and swelling, try putting ice on your heel and plantar fascia for 15 to 20 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for the first 2 or 3 days or until the pain goes away.
  • While you are recovering from your injury, change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse.  For example, you may need to swim instead of run.
  • Do any exercises your health care provider gives you to stretch and strengthen your If you over-pronate, your health care provider may recommend shoe inserts, called orthotics, to keep your foot stable.  You can buy orthotics at a pharmacy or athletic shoe store or they can be custom-made.

How long will the effects last?

The length of recovery depends on many factors such as your age, health, and if you have had a previous injury.  Recovery time also depends on the severity of the injury.  Fascia that is only mildly inflamed and has just started to hurt may improve within a few weeks.  Fascia that is significantly inflamed and has been painful for a long time may take up to a few months to improve.  You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until the tendon has healed.  If you continue doing activities that cause the pain, your symptoms will return and it will take longer to recover.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate.  Return to your activity will be determined by how soon your plantar fascia recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred.  In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better.  The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible.  If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.

How can I prevent Plantar Fascitiis?

The best way to prevent plantar fascitiis is to stretch your calf muscles and before exercise.  If you have tight calf muscles, stretch them twice a day whether or not you are doing any sports activities that day.  If you have a tendency to get p, avoid running uphill a lot.   Keeping your body in alignment is key for all optimal performance in all activities.

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