Plantar fasciitis is a prevalent issue among sportspersons. Let’s say, if your first steps in the morning cause a stabbing pain in your heel, you may have plantar fasciitis. This inflammation of the plantar fascia – the tissue that connects your heel to your toes – is widespread, especially for runners.
With the proper treatment, this condition usually goes away in several months. To speed up your recovery and rule out other injuries, you may want to see your doctor. Though, this condition is overlooked by most people. It can be fatal if you don’t get medical help immediately. In this blog, I have discussed how to treat plantar fasciitis in detail.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The sole is identified as the plantar region. Plantar fasciitis is a prolonged local swelling and inflammation of the ligament stretching under the sole, also mentioned as the ‘plantar fascia,’ which attaches to the heel.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Generally, Plantar fasciitis causes unbearable pain in the lower part of your foot around the heel area. The stinging pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after waking up, although it can also be set off by long periods of standing or when you get up after a long period of sitting. The pain is worse after a workout, not during it.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fascia comes with the shape of a bowstring that absorbs shock when you walk and supports the arch of your foot. If the stress and tension on the bowstring become too heavy, tiny tears occur in the plantar fascia. Repeated tearing and stretching can inflame or irritate the fascia, although the cause remains a mystery in many cases of plantar fasciitis.
How to diagnose plantar fasciitis?
Doctors diagnose Plantar fasciitis based on physical examination as well as the medical history of the condition. Plantar fasciitis causes localized tenderness along the isolated area of the foot, most frequently on the inside edge of the heel. Usually, no further testing is required for diagnosis. X-ray testing reveals if an associated heel spur is present and rules out other causes of heel pain, such as tumors or fractures. Ultrasound imaging (USG) can also help diagnose plantar fasciitis.
Risk factors of Plantar Fasciitis
Even though plantar fasciitis can happen without any apparent cause, some factors can increase your risk of developing this medical condition. These are:
Age: Plantar fasciitis is a common problem between the ages of forty and sixty.
Exercises: Activities that put a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissues, such as ballet dancing, long-running sessions, and aerobic dance, can contribute to the causes of Plantar Fasciitis.
Foot mechanics: High arch, flat feet, or even an uneven walking pattern can affect the way your body distributes weight when you’re standing and can put added pressure on your plantar fascia.
Obesity: Excess weight causes extra pressure on your
Legs: Obesity is a cause of Plantar Fasciitis. Also, jobs requiring you on your feet all day long, like teachers, factory workers, and salespeople who spend most of their days standing or walking on hard surfaces, can damage the plantar fascia.
Mostly 90% of patients with plantar fasciitis improve within ten months of starting simple treatments.
Rest: Completely stopping or decreasing the activities that cause the pain is the first and easiest step in reducing the suffering. You will need to stop sports activities where your feet jump on solid surfaces (for example, playing tennis or running).
Ice: Rolling a cold water bottle or ice bag on your foot effectively reduces the pain in 20 minutes. You can do this 4 to 5 times every day.
Anti-inflammatory Non-steroidal medicine: Drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen reduce inflammation or pain. Using the prescribed medication for more than a month should be checked with your physician.
Exercise: Plantar fasciitis is irritated by the delicate muscles in your calves and feet. Stretching your plantar fascia and calves is the most effective exercise to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Calf stretching: Lean forward against a wall with the heel on the ground and one knee straight. Bend your knee and place the other leg in front. To stretch the heel cord and the calf muscles, forward your hips towards the wall in a controlled manner. Do this exercise for ten seconds and breathe. Repeat this exercise twenty times for each leg. A strong pull in the calf muscle should be felt during the activity.
Plantar fascia stretch: This exercise can be performed in the seating position. Cross the affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Hold the toes of painful feet and slowly bring them toward you carefully. If it is hard to touch your foot, tightly wrap a towel around your feet to help stretch your toes inwards.
Move your other hand around the plantar fascia area. The fascia must feel like a tight grip along the bottom of your legs when stretched. Do this stretch for ten seconds and repeat it twenty times for both feet. This exercise is most effective when you do it before standing or walking, preferably in the morning.
Cortisone injections: Cortisone, a steroid, is an effective anti-inflammatory drug. You can inject it into the plantar fascia to reduce the pain and inflammation. Though, your physician might limit your doses because multiple steroid injections may rupture the plantar fascia, leading to chronic pain and even flat foot.
Orthotics or Supportive shoes: Shoes with extra cushioning and thick soles can reduce pain with walking and standing. As your heel strikes, while you walk or run on the ground, a significant amount of pressure is put on the fascia, which causes tiny tears in the muscle. A cushioned shoe or stiff sole reduces the microtrauma and tension that occurs with every footstep. Soft silicone heel pads are cheap and work by cushioning and elevating your heel. Custom-made orthotics shoe insoles also reduce pain. Also, soft heel pads can provide adequate support to your feet.
Night splints: Generally, people sleep with their feet pointing down. This eases up the plantar fascia and is one of the reasons for heel pain. A night splint eases the plantar fascia while you are asleep. Although it can be uncomfortable to sleep with, using a night splint helps a lot, and you don’t have to use it once the pain is relieved.
Physical therapy: Your doctor will suggest that you work with a physiotherapist on an exercise and yoga program that focuses on stretching your plantar fascia and calf muscles. In addition to specialized activities, make sure the physical therapy program involves massage, specialized ice treatment, and proper medication to ease the inflammation around the heel area.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT): During ESWT, high-energy shockwave catalysts stimulate the healing process in injured plantar fascia tissues. However, ESWT has not shown consistent results to date, so it is not commonly prescribed.
ESWT is non-invasive; it does not need surgical intervention. Because of lower risk factors, sometimes doctors consider ESWT before prescribing surgery.
Surgery is prescribed only after twelve months of severe nonsurgical treatment and therapy.
Gastrocnemius recession: This is a surgery to lengthen the calf muscles. Because stiff calf muscles provide more stress on plantar fascia tissues, this process is helpful for people who still face difficulty flexing their feet, despite a year of doing physical therapy.
In this procedure, one of the two muscles that comprise the calf is lengthened to accelerate the motion of your ankle. The process can be done with traditional open surgery or an endoscope, an instrument holding a small camera. However, your doctor will discuss with you before prescribing surgery.
Though the chances of complications are low, gastrocnemius recession can cause damage to your nerves.
Plantar fascia release: If you have an average range of ankle movement and continued heel suffering, your doctor will recommend a partial release of the plantar fascia. During surgery, the plantar fascia ligament is cut to relieve the pressure in the tissue. If you have a huge bone spur, it will be replaced, as well. Although the incision can be performed by endoscopy, it becomes more complicated than with scissors.
Complications: The most common problem of release surgery is that it causes nerve damage and provides temporary solutions.
Recovery: Most people suffering from plantar fasciitis get satisfactory results from surgery. However, surgery can result in dissatisfaction and chronic pain. So, I would recommend you to go for surgery after all the nonsurgical measures have been taken.
I hope this blog has helped you to know everything about plantar fasciitis. I have tried to sum up all the necessary information in brief for you. Although I hope none of you suffer from plantar fasciitis or any feet problem, if you still do, please consult with a doctor immediately.