The 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 tendon 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 Overview
- It can be treated
- 10% of injuries are from running-related cases
- 83% of patients are active adults 25-65 years old
- 14% of patients experienced improved symptoms simply by changing shoes
- If left untreated, heel pain can lead to difficulty in walking that will require complex therapy
- When starting a new activity, gradually increase the duration and intensity of it.
- Recovery time can take from 6 to 9 months with therapy
For a visual representation of dealing with plantar fasciitis, check out our infographic on how to get rid of heel pain. Print this out or share with others you know dealing with heel pain and an inflammed plantar fascia.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is most commonly reported in people from 40 to 60 years of age. Young athletes are also susceptible to heel pain in females, ages 8-13 and males, ages 13-15. 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.
Common Causes of Heel Pain from Plantar Fasciitis
- Sports that involve a lot of running or jumping
- Increasing activity level too quickly
- Occupations that keep you on your feet for long periods of time
- Significant increases in body weight
- A pronated foot
- Improper footwear
- Decreased ankle dorsiflexion
It can also be caused by compensation for chronic achilles tendinosis, calf strains or tibialis posterior dysfunction.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can very painful and pain and stiffness can be typically felt along the bottom of the foot near the heel. It can feel very sharp to very dull and vary. Some patients also report a burning feeling.
- Pain worsens after standing for long periods or as you get up from sitting
- Pain after exercise or activity
- Pressing on the sides of the heel or arch of foot hurts and/or feels tender
- Discomfort when stretching the foot
- Most pain is in the morning due to the tendon tightening up over night while sleeping, but eases away after walking around for a few minutes
- Pain gradually becomes worse in the evening
What is the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Seek advice from your doctor for the best treatment plan for your injury. 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.
Recovery time can take from 6 to 9 months once you begin therapy. It is important that you focus on completing your physical therapy in order to get rid of heel pain and to recovery fully.
Using the proper footwear and supports is also important. Make sure your shoes properly cushion your foot and support your arch. 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.
Try foam rolling your calves to release tension along your achilles which connects to the bottom of your foot. Add muscle stimulation as therapy to help increase the blood flow in the area. Always stretch your calves and feet before and after an activity. You can try using the towel method to stretch your foot or roll your foot on a tennis ball or lacrosse ball.
Try This: If you sleep with a fitted sheet tucked in the bottom of the mattress, try loosening this sheet so that your feet have room to fully stretch out and are not stuck in a position where your feet end up shortening the tendon overnight.
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.
Home Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
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