Plantar FasciitisThe plantar fascia is a piece of tissue in your foot that connects the front of the foot to your heel. It's designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. When this area becomes irritated and inflamed, it is known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 2 million patients are treated for plantar fasciitis each year.
Plantar Fasciitis CausesPlantar fasciitis is most common in active men 40 - 70 years old. It can occur for a number of different reasons. Intense physical activity and overuse can cause stress on the plantar fascia, leading to inflammation. This is especially seen in athletes who suddenly change their training or exercise routine. Foot arch issues such as high arches or flat foot can also increase your risk of arthritis, as can poor footwear. Arthritis can also cause plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis SymptomsThe most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain and stiffness on the bottom of the heel. The amount of pain can vary, from a dull ache, sharp pain, or even a burning feeling. The pain is typically worse in the morning because the plantar fascia tightens up during the night when the patient sleeps. Pain is typically more significant after standing or sitting for long periods of time. The pain can develop over time or it can have sudden onset, especially after intense activity.
Treatment for Plantar FasciitisAs with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation. Initial treatment for plantar fasciitis often includes rest and icing the painful area of the heel. Some patients may also use anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin. A physician may also suggest physical therapy and stretching to help rehabilitate the plantar fascia.
Using the proper footwear and supports is also important. Make sure your shoes properly cushion your foot. Consider purchasing a foot brace for plantar fasciitis such as the Aircast Airheel. This ankle brace provides compression and enhances circulation in your foot to minimize swelling and alleviate pain. Patients can also wear a night splint for plantar fasciitis, such as the Aircast Dorsal Night Splint. A night splint helps keep the plantar fascia stretched while sleeping to reduce pain in the morning. If you need around-the-clock relief, you can get a plantar fasciitis kit that contains both the Airheel and Dorsal Night Splint.
In extreme cases, a physician may recommend steroid shots or injections in to the heel to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain. Surgery is may be suggested if no improvement is seen after 12 months of non-surgical treatment.