Have you suffered or ever experienced pain at the heel region or bottom on the foot when you first get up in the morning, after an intensive exercise or when you stand after been seated for a while? You may be suffering from plantar fasciitis.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue which supports the arch of the foot, it originates from the heel and extends to the toes.  Plantar fasciitis or plantar fasciosis is a disorder of the plantar fascia ligament characterised by microtears.

In the literature, plantar fasciosis has been described as painful heel syndrome, chronic plantar heel pain, heel spur syndrome, runner’s heel, and calcaneal periostitis.

It is estimated that one in ten people suffer from plantar fasciitis during their lifetime.

Risk Factors:

  1. Being overweight plays a significant load on the plantar fascia and surrounding muscles and ligaments.
  2. Sudden weight gain may lead to mechanical overload on the plantar fascia.
  3. Certain sporting activities where significant force is placed on the heels. Sport such as running and aerobics

Prevention:

As excessive force on the plantar fascia ligament may cause a micro tear, hence reducing or removing the causative factors is paramount. These factors may include:

  1. Making sure your footwear is not worn out.
  2. Regular exercise to control healthy weight reduces excessive strain on the ligaments. Stretching the plantar fascia ligament on a regular base.
  3. Warm up before and after sporting activity.
  4. Refrain from an activity that causes pain.

Diagnosis:

To find out whether you have plantar fasciitis, your doctor may ask you questions about the duration and origin of the pain. Assessment may range from palpating the site of pain to be referred for an x-ray or an ultrasound of the heel and plantar foot are sometimes useful. Gait assessment may also be conducted to find other possible causative factors and or ruling out other medical conditions.

Treatment:

For acute plantar fasciosis, treatment may include:

  1. Rest, ice, compression or taping of the foot in a low dye technique using a sports tape. Your podiatrist or physiotherapist can teach you on the technique when applying the sports tape.
  2. Orthotics therapy to reduce the excessive load on the plantar fascia region and distribute our weight load to other regions has also been found to be beneficial in the healing process. Depending on the severity of the condition, orthoses may include custom or non-custom made. Your podiatrist or other health/medical professionals may provide you with the best information according to your condition and needs.
  3. Stretching of the tight muscles such as the gastrocnemius and soleus which are situated at the back of your legs and strengthening the muscles associated with stabilising your foot and ankle joints such as tibialis posterior, tibialis anterior and peroneus longus muscles are of paramount importance in the long term healing process.
  4. Medications, injections or surgical procedures may also be necessary where none of the above treatment methods had significantly helped. Your health care professionals will guide you through the best treatment options according to your needs.

Since prevention is better than cure, regular exercise and seeking medical attention at the initial stages of pain is paramount, in preventing further possible long term complications.