Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot condition caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia – the thick ligamentous connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. The pain is usually felt on the bottom of the foot near the heel and is worst when getting out of bed first thing in the morning or after sitting for a length of time. It is caused by too much pressure or trauma to the bottom of the foot – often resulting from wearing old “dead” shoes or a weight gain. Recovery takes several weeks, aided by icing and taping of the foot and anti-inflammatory medication.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These can lead to pain and swelling. This is more likely to happen if:
- Your feet roll inward too much when you walk (excessive pronation ).
- You have high arches or flat feet.
- You walk, stand, or run for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces.
- You are overweight.
- You wear shoes that don’t fit well or are worn out.
- You have tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles.
- excessive weight load on the foot due to obesity or prolonged standing
- mechanical imbalances of the foot
- osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- sudden increase in body weight (e.g., pregnancy)
- sudden increase in walking or running
- tight calf muscles is a very common cause of the disorder
- wearing shoes with poor support, including flip-flops
Treatment and Prevention
Plantar fasciitis treatment is aimed at controlling the inflammation which causes the pain. There are several treatment options so that each patient can find the strategies that suit them and their condition the best. Different treatment options can be chosen, dependant on the stage and severity of the condition and pain experienced.
Rest is the one of the most important treatment strategies for all cases of plantar fasciitis. Refraining from physical activity that exacerbates the condition allows the inflammation to subside, which eases the pain. Resting the affected foot usually eases the most severe pain associated with the problem.
Applying ice to the underside of the foot, near the heel, helps to alleviate even severe pain quickly. Ice packs are really helpful when the condition flares up and the sudden severe pain is felt. Applying an ice pack as soon as possible to the heel relieves the pain and eases the inflammation. Continuing to apply an ice pack every few hours, will help to reduce the ongoing inflammation and pain. By sitting or lying down while the ice is doing its work, you are allowing the rest and the ice to work together to bring about pain relief.
The following steps will help prevent plantar fasciitis or help keep the condition from getting worse if you already have it:
- Take care of your feet. Wear shoes with good arch support and heel cushioning. If your work requires you to stand on hard surfaces, stand on a thick rubber mat to reduce stress on your feet.
- Do exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. This is especially important before sports, but it is helpful for nonathletes as well. Ask your doctor about recommendations for a stretching routine.
- Stay at a healthy weight for your height.
- Establish good exercise habits. Increase your exercise levels gradually, and wear supportive shoes.
- If you run, alternate running with other sports that will not cause heel pain.
- Put on supportive shoes as soon as you get out of bed. Going barefoot or wearing slippers puts stress on your feet.
If you feel that work activities caused your heel pain, ask your human resources department for information about different ways of doing your job that will not make your heel pain worse. If you are involved in sports, you may want to consult a sports training specialist for training and conditioning programs to prevent plantar fasciitis from recurring.