Plantar fasciitis is thickening of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue running underneath the sole of the foot. The thickening can be due to recent damage or injury, or can be because of an
accumulation of smaller injuries over the years. Plantar fasciitis can be painful.
This is a problem of either extreme, so people with high arches or those that have very flat feet are at risk of developing pain in this region. This is because of the relative stress the plantar
fascia is put under. In people with excessive pronation, the plantar fascia is put under too much stretch, as their range flattens and strains it. People with a stiff, supinated (high-arched) foot
lack the flexibility to appropriately shock absorb, so this too puts extra strain on the plantar fascia. Clinically, we see more people presenting with plantar fascia pain who have excessive
pronation than those with stiff, supinated feet. But while the foot type is the biggest risk factor for plantar fasciitis, the whole leg from the pelvis down can affect how the foot hits the ground.
A thorough biomechanical assessment will determine where in the kinetic chain things have gone wrong to cause the overload.
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.
Most cases of plantar fasciitis are diagnosed by a health care provider who listens carefully to your description of symptoms. During an examination of your feet, your health care provider will have
to press on the bottom of your feet, the area most likely to be painful in plantar fasciitis. Because the pain of plantar fasciitis has unique characteristics, pain upon rising, improvement after
walking for several minutes, pain produced by pressure applied in a specific location on your foot but not with pressure in other areas, your health care provider will probably feel comfortable
making the diagnosis based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Your health care provider may suggest that you have an X-ray of your foot to verify that there is no stress fracture causing
Non Surgical Treatment
Shoe therapy, finding and wearing shoes that allow your feet to be in their natural position, is the most important treatment for plantar fasciosis. Shoes that possess a flat heel, are wide in the
toe box, lack toe spring, and have flexible soles are most appropriate for this foot problem. An increasing number of shoe companies are producing shoes with these design characteristics, but shoes
that include all these features are still difficult to find. For some suggested footwear models, see our clinicâs shoe list. Most conventional footwear can be modified by stretching the shoeâs
upper, stretching out the toe spring, removing the shoeâs liner, and cutting the shoe at certain key points to allow more room for your foot. Visit your podiatrist to help you with these shoe
modifications. Correct Toes is another helpful conservative treatment method for plantar fasciosis. Correct Toes addresses the root cause of your plantar fasciosis by properly aligning your big toe
and reducing the tension created by your abductor hallucis longus on the blood vessels that feed and "cleanse" the tissues of your plantar fascia. Your plantar fasciosis-related pain will diminish
when the dead tissue is washed away. A rehabilitation program, which includes targeted stretches and other exercises, for your foot may be helpful too. Dietary changes and aerobic exercise are
particularly important for overweight individuals who have plantar fasciosis. Water aerobics may be most appropriate for those individuals whose pain does not allow them to walk or cycle. Physical
therapy may be another helpful treatment modality for this problem, and includes ultrasound, electrical stimulation, contrast baths, and range-of-motion exercises. Massage, acupuncture, reflexology,
and magnet therapy are holistic approaches that may be helpful.
If you consider surgery, your original diagnosis should be confirmed by the surgeon first. In addition, supporting diagnostic evidence (such as nerve-conduction studies) should be gathered to rule
out nerve entrapment, particularly of the first branch of the lateral plantar nerve and the medial plantar nerve. Blood tests should consist of an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), rheumatoid
factor, human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27), and uric acid. Itâs important to understand that surgical treatment of bone spurs rarely improves plantar fasciitis pain. And surgery for plantar
fasciitis can cause secondary complications-a troubling condition known as lateral column syndrome.
An important part of prevention is to perform a gait analysis to determine any biomechanical problems with the foot which may be causing the injury. This can be corrected with orthotic inserts into
the shoes. If symptoms do not resolve then surgery is an option, however this is more common for patients with a rigid high arch where the plantar fascia has shortened.