Do you have sharp, stabbing, and/or aching pain on the bottom of your heel or arch?
Is the pain more severe when you first get up in the morning or when you first start walking after rest? If this describes your pain then you probably suffer from a condition known as PLANTAR
FASCIITIS. It sounds complicated, but plantar fasciitis is actually one of the most common foot problems. In the past plantar fasciitis has been called by other names, such as heel spur syndrome,
bone spurs or a stone bruise on the heel. The plantar fascia is a long thick ligament that runs along the arch of your foot from your heel bone (the calcaneus) to the ball of the foot. The job of the
plantar fascia is to help support your arch. When the fascia becomes inflamed and painful we call this PLANTAR FASCIITIS. The pain from plantar fasciitis most commonly occurs near the attachment of
the fascia to the calcaneus (heel bone), which is why most people who suffer from plantar fasciitis have pain on the bottom or inside of the heel. However, the pain can be anywhere along the fascia
from the heel to the ball of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, accounting for around four out of five cases. Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone with the rest of
the foot (the plantar fascia) becomes damaged and thickened. Damage to the plantar fascia is thought to occur following sudden damage, for example, damaging your heel while jogging, running or
dancing; this type of damage usually affects younger people who are physically active, gradual wear and tear of the tissues that make up the plantar fascia - this usually affects adults who are 40
years of age or over. You are at an increased risk of gradual wear and tear damaging your plantar fasciitis if you are overweight or obese, if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over, you are
considered to be obese, have a job that involves spending long periods of time standing, wear flat-soled shoes, such as sandals or flip flops. Less common causes of heel pain are a stress fracture. A
stress fracture can occur if your heel bone is damaged during an injury. Fat pad atrophy. Fat pad atrophy is where the layer of fat that lies under the heel bone, known as the fat pad, starts to
waste away due to too much strain being placed on the pad. Women who wear high-heeled shoes for many years have an increased risk of developing fat pad atrophy. Bursitis. Bursitis is inflammation of
one or more bursa (small fluid-filled sacs under the skin, usually found over the joints and between tendons and bones). It's possible to develop bursitis anywhere inside the body, not just in the
foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome. The nerves in the sole of your foot pass through a small tunnel on the inside of the ankle joint, known as the tarsal tunnel. If a cyst forms or the tunnel is damaged,
the nerves can become compressed (squashed). This can cause pain anywhere along the nerve, including beneath your heel. Sever's disease. Sever's disease is a common cause of heel pain in children.
It's caused by the muscles and tendons of the hamstrings and calves stretching and tightening in response to growth spurts. The stretching of the calf muscle pulls on the Achilles tendon. This pulls
on the growing area of bone at the back of the heel (growth plate), causing pain in the heel. The pain is further aggravated by activities such as football and gymnastics. The pain often develops at
the side of the heel, but can also be felt under the heel. Calf and hamstring stretches and, if necessary, heel pads are usually effective treatments for Sever's disease. Bone spurs. Bone spurs are
an excess growth of bone that forms on a normal bone. Bone spurs can develop on the heel (a heel spur) and are more common in people with heel pain. However, they can also occur in people without
heel pain. A heel spur does not cause heel pain.
You'll typically first notice early plantar fasciitis pain under your heel or in your foot arch in the morning or after resting. Your heel pain will be worse with the first steps and improves with
activity as it warms up. As plantar fasciitis deteriorates, the pain will be present more often. You can determine what stage your are in using the following guidelines. No Heel Pain, Normal! Heel
pain after exercise. Heel pain before and after exercise. Heel pain before, during and after exercise. Heel pain all the time. Including at rest! This symptom progression is consistent with the four
stages of a typical overuse injury. Ultimately, further trauma and delayed healing will result in the formation of calcium (bone) within the plantar fascia. When this occurs adjacent to the heel bone
it is known as heel spurs, which have a longer rehabilitation period.
During the physical exam, your doctor checks for points of tenderness in your foot. The location of your pain can help determine its cause. Usually no tests are necessary. The diagnosis is made based
on the history and physical examination. Occasionally your doctor may suggest an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to make sure your pain isn't being caused by another problem, such as a
stress fracture or a pinched nerve. Sometimes an X-ray shows a spur of bone projecting forward from the heel bone. In the past, these bone spurs were often blamed for heel pain and removed
surgically. But many people who have bone spurs on their heels have no heel pain.
Non Surgical Treatment
In general, we start by correcting training errors. This usually requires relative rest, the use of ice after activities, and an evaluation of the patient's shoes and activities. Next, we try
correction of biomechanical factors with a stretching and strengthening program. If the patient still has no improvement, we consider night splints and orthotics. Finally, all other treatment options
are considered. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are considered throughout the treatment course, although we explain to the patient that this medicine is being used primarily for pain
control and not to treat the underlying problem.
Surgery is not a common treatment for this condition. Approximately 5% of people with plantar fasciitis require surgery if non-surgical methods do not help to relieve pain within a year. The surgical
procedure involves making an incision in the plantar fascia in order to decrease the tension of the ligament. Potential risks of this surgical procedure include irritation of the nerves around the
heel, continued plantar fasciitis, heel or foot pain, infection, flattening of the arch, problems relating to the anesthetic.
Stretching your plantar fasciitis is something you can do at home to relieve pain and speed healing. Ice massage performed three to four times per day in 15 to 20 minute intervals is also something
you can do to reduce inflammation and pain. Placing arch supports in your shoes absorbs shock and takes pressure off the plantar fascia.