There are many diagnoses within the differential of heel pain; however, plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain for which professional care is sought. Approximately 10% of the United
States population experiences bouts of heel pain, which results in 1 million visits per year to medical professionals for treatment of plantar fasciitis. The annual cost of treatments for plantar
fasciitis is estimated to be between $192 and $376 million dollars. The etiology of this condition is multifactorial, and the condition can occur traumatically; however, most cases are from overuse
Your plantar fascia (fay-sha) supports the arch of your foot as you run or walk. It is a thick, inelastic, fibrous band that starts in your heel, runs along the bottom of your foot, and spreads out
to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this fibrous band. If you are female or have a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces you are more at risk for plantar
fasciitis. Additional causes include Being overweight, Having flat feet or high arches, Wearing shoes with poor support, Walking or running for exercise, Tight calf muscles that limit how far you can
flex your ankles, Running on soft terrain, Increase in activity level, Genetic predisposition.
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia - a band of tough fibrous tissue running along the sole of the foot. It occurs when small tears develop in the plantar fascia, leading to
inflammation and heel pain. The plantar fascia tissue branches out from the heel like a fan, connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes. When the foot moves, the plantar fascia stretches and
contracts. The plantar fascia helps to maintain the arch of the foot in much the same way that the string of a bow maintains the bow's arch. The most notable symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel
pain. This is typically most severe in the middle of the heel though it may radiate along the sole of the foot. The pain is most often felt when walking first thing in the morning or after a period
of rest. As walking continues the pain may decrease; however some degree of pain remains present on movement. The pain may disappear when resting, as the plantar fascia is relaxed. Redness, swelling
and warmth over the affected area may also be noticed. The onset of plantar fasciitis is gradual and only mild pain may be experienced initially. However, as the condition progresses the pain
experienced tends to become more severe. Chronic plantar fasciitis may cause a person to change their walking or running action, leading to symptoms of discomfort in the knee, hip and back.
A thorough subjective and objective examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose plantar fasciitis. Occasionally, further investigations such as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI
may be required to assist with diagnosis and assess the severity of the condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
Reducing inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament is an important part of treatment, though this does not address the underlying damage to the ligament. Initial home treatment includes staying off
your feet and applying ice for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day to reduce swelling. You can also try reducing or changing your exercise activities. Using arch supports in your shoes and
doing stretching exercises may also help to relieve pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (i.e. Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (i.e. Aleve), are often used to reduce
inflammation in the ligament. If home treatments and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs donât ease the pain, an injection of a corticosteroid directly into the damaged section of the ligament
can be given. Your doctor can do this in his or her office. Your doctor may use an ultrasound device to help determine the best place for the injection. Corticosteroids can also be administered on
the skin of your heel or the arch of your foot, and then a painless electrical current is applied to let the steroid pass through your skin and into the muscle. Physical therapy is an important part
of treatment for planter fasciitis. It can help stretch your plantar fascia and Achilles tendons. A physical therapist can also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, helping to
stabilize your walk and lessen the workload on your plantar fascia. If pain continues and other methods arenât working, your doctor may recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy. Sound waves are
bombarded against your heel to stimulate healing within the ligament. This treatment can result in bruises, swelling, pain, and numbness, and has not been proven to be consistently effective in
In unusual cases, surgical intervention is necessary for relief of pain. These should only be employed after non-surgical efforts have been used without relief. Generally, such surgical procedures
may be completed on an outpatient basis in less than one hour, using local anesthesia or minimal sedation administrated by a trained anesthesiologist. In such cases, the surgeon may remove or release
the injured and inflamed fascia, after a small incision is made in the heel. A surgical procedure may also be undertaken to remove bone spurs, sometimes as part of the same surgery addressing the
damaged tissue. A cast may be used to immobilize the foot following surgery and crutches provided in order to allow greater mobility while keeping weight off the recovering foot during healing. After
removal of the cast, several weeks of physical therapy can be used to speed recovery, reduce swelling and restore flexibility.
Stretching the plantar fascia and the calf muscle area can help to prevent inflammation. Slowly increasing the amount or intensity of athletic activities by graded progression can also help to
prevent injury. Recommended Stretches: Taking a lunge position with the injured foot behind and keeping your heels flat on the floor, lean into a wall and bend the knees. A stretch should be felt in
the sole and in the Achilles tendon area. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Also try this stretch with the back leg straight.