If your first step in the morning often feels like it involves a rusty nail being inserted into your heel, youâre not alone. Heel pain resulting from plantar fasciitis is the most prevalent
condition treated in podiatric clinics, and an additional 1 million Americans annually are seen by medical doctors for the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The
plantar fascia is the ligament that runs from the heel bone across the entire bottom of the foot and connects at the base of the toes. Ligaments connect bone to bone, and donât really constrict or
contract, but can become thickened because of inflammation. Inflammation of the plantar fascia can cause strain when you walk, specifically heel pain that is especially bad for the first few steps
after prolonged inactivity. It then typically loosens up once youâre up and about.
Identified risk factors for plantar fasciitis include excessive running, standing on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time, high arches of the feet, the presence of a leg length inequality, and
flat feet. The tendency of flat feet to excessively roll inward during walking or running makes them more susceptible to plantar fasciitis. Obesity is seen in 70% of individuals who present with
plantar fasciitis and is an independent risk factor. Studies have suggested a strong association exists between an increased body mass index and the development of plantar fasciitis. Achilles tendon
tightness and inappropriate footwear have also been identified as significant risk factors.
The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn. The pain is often worse in the morning when
you take your first steps, after standing or sitting for awhile, when climbing stairs, after intense activity. The pain may develop slowly over time, or come on suddenly after intense activity.
Your doctor will check your feet and watch you stand and walk. He or she will also ask questions about your past health, including what illnesses or injuries you have had. Your symptoms, such as
where the pain is and what time of day your foot hurts most. How active you are and what types of physical activity you do. Your doctor may take an X-ray of your foot if he or she suspects a problem
with the bones of your foot, such as a stress fracture.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest until the pain resolves and you are feeling better. For most people with plantar fasciitis it is very difficult to rest as daily routine demands using their feet during the day for work or other
activities. By using the painful foot you keep on hurting the plantar fascia, harming the foot and increasing inflammation. Rest as much as you can, reduce unnecessary activities and additional
stress on the fascia. Cold therapy like applying ice to the bottom of your foot helps reduce pain and inflammation. Cold therapy can be used all the time until symptoms have resolved. Some patients
prefer to roll their foot over an iced cold drink can or bottle taken out of the freezer. Physical therapy Exercises are good plantar fasciitis treatment. Stretching and other physical therapy
measures may be used to provide relief. Stretching the plantar fascia is reported in scientific studies to be a very effective treatment technique. Gait analysis will determine if you overpronate or
oversupinate. An expert may perform a test of the way you stand and walk to see if you step in a way that puts more stress on the plantar fascia. You can try to change the way you walk and stand
according to the experts recommendation as part of your treatment. Exercise the foot muscles to make the muscles stronger. One good exercise is grabbing and lifting up a towel or marbles using your
toes. You can do the same exercise without a towel as though you are grasping something with the toes of each foot. Another good exercise is walking as tall as you can on your toes and on the balls
of your feet. Stretching the plantar fascia and the calf muscles several times a day is an important part of the treatment and prevention. There are many stretching exercises for the plantar fascia
and the calf muscles that you can find. Long term treatment should not focus in reduction of pain and inflammation alone. This is a passive short term relief treatment. Stretching exercises results
are longer and more flexible foot movement which can prevent another fascia injury. Plantar fasciitis taping technique can assist the foot getting rest and help it from getting injured again.
Athletic tape is applied in strips on the skin on the bottom of the foot supporting the plantar fascia. The tape restricts the movement of the foot so the fascia can not be injured again. Taping
supports the foot by putting the tired foot muscles and tendons in a physiologically more relaxed position. A night splint is worn during sleep. It holds the calf muscles and plantar fascia in a
stretched position. Night splint treatment lets the fascia heal in a stretched position so it will not get bruised again when waking up and stretching it again while walking. Orthotics or inserts
that your doctor may prescribe or custom made arch supports (orthotics) plantar fascia orthotic. help to distribute the pressure on your feet more evenly. Arch Support gives a little raise to the
arch assisting the plantar fascia. There are also over-the-counter inserts that are used for arch support and heel cushioning. Heel cups and cradles provide extra comfort and cushion the heel. They
reduce shock placed on the foot during everyday activities like Shock absorbers. Anti-inflammatory or Pain medication that a clinician may recommend can be a plantar fasciitis treatment.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can reduce swelling and relieve pain. However, these medications may have many side effects and it is important to consider the potential risks
and benefits. These medications may relieve the pain and inflammation but will not cure the fascia. Lose weight as much as you can. Extra weight puts more stress on your plantar fascia. Platelet Rich
Plasma or PRP therapy, is a procedure which involves an injection of special plasma, made out of the patients own blood, to the injured area. Platelets are special blood components that have a major
role in the body ability to heal itself. Blood is taken from the patient and separated into its components. The platelet rich part of the blood is than taken and injected into the injured area - in
our case to the bottom of the foot. The special plasma helps the foot recovery process. The procedure is actually maximizing the body's natural healing response of the treated area. Extracorporeal
shock wave therapy is a procedure which sound waves are targeted at the area of heel pain to encourage healing. It is mostly used for chronic plantar fasciitis which does not respond to conservative
treatments. This procedure has many possible side effects like bruising, swelling, pain or numbness and has not proved to be consistently effective. Corticosteroid injection (or cortisone shots) into
the painful area may provide relief in severe cases. This kind of medication is very efficient in inflammation reduction. Corticosteroid injections usually provide short-term relief from plantar
fasciitis pain. Symptom relief from the corticosteroid injection lasts for 3 to 6 weeks, but the effect often deteriorates and symptoms return. Botox Injections (botulinum toxin) are used to relieve
the pain of plantar fasciitis, assist foot function recovery and the ability to walk better. Although the use of Botox injections as heel pain treatment is relatively new, there are a number of
medical studies that show significant good results.
Most studies indicate that 95% of those afflicted with plantar fasciitis are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don't improve
with other treatments, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and
relieve the inflammation of the ligament. Overall, the success rate of surgical release is 70 to 90 percent in patients with plantar fasciitis. While the success rate is very high following surgery,
one should be aware that there is often a prolonged postoperative period of discomfort similar to the discomfort experienced prior to surgery. This pain usually will abate within 2-3 months. One
should always be sure to understand all the risks associated with any surgery they are considering.
Factors that help prevent plantar fasciitis and reduce the risk of recurrence include. Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the lower leg and ankle. Warming up before commencing physical activity.
Maintaining a healthy body weight. Avoiding high heeled footwear. Using orthotic devices such as arch supports and heel raises in footwear, particularly for people with very high arches or flat feet.
Daily stretches of plantar fascia and Achilles tendon.