Plantar fasciitis: what is it?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot conditions experienced by patients. As its suffix denotes (-itis), it is an inflammatory disease involving the plantar fascia, the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel up to where the toes meet the foot.
In terms of its function, the plantar fascia is responsible for keeping the bones of the foot tightly packed together. It stabilizes the bottom of the foot and prevents the foot’s arch from collapsing. Mechanically, by keeping the foot taut, the plantar fascia also plays an important role in mediating the forward propulsion of the foot. It essentially acts like a spring as you walk and pushes you forwards.
How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis?
It has been estimated that approximately one in 10 people will be affected by plantar fasciitis sometime in their lives. Activities that play a lot of stress on your heel—such as long-distance walking, dancing, and running—can increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Those with feet that overpronate and weak plantar muscles are also at a heightened risk.
Patients with plantar fasciitis have described a series of common symptoms, some of which include:
- Pain and/or swelling near the heel area
- Augmented pain following prolonged activities or exercise
- Pain within the arch of the foot
- Foot pain that worsens in the morning when you wake or after you are immobile for a long time
How can I treat plantar fasciitis?
The first step to seeking treatment is to obtain a physical examination by a health care provider, such as a podiatrist. They will take a look at your symptoms to determine how severe your condition is and what the best mode of treatment will be.
Non-surgical options, such as prescribed orthotics, will often be employed as the first step. A detailed scan of your foot will be taken to build a custom insert that will be worn within your shoes. These devices can be extremely effective at correcting foot misalignments and relieving pain.
In addition to orthotics, your podiatrist may also provide a range of different exercises to strengthen your foot and leg muscles. These exercises are aimed at increasing your foot’s flexibility. In more severe cases, cortisone (steroid) injections may be employed in an attempt to reduce inflammation. It is only in very extreme and rare cases that surgery will be suggested.
If you suspect you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis or have any questions about treating it, please feel free to comment below. You can also reach out to us at docpods.com.au