Plantar fasciitis is that pain in the bottom of your foot usually in the heel. That pain hurts especially with the first few steps in the morning as you get out of bed. This strange name comes from:
"Plantar" means something that belongs to the foot, "fascia" means a band or ligament or a connective tissue, and "itis" means inflammation. You can see in the picture the plantar fascia band as it
runs along the foot. This band connects your heel bone to the toes.
There are a number of plantar fasciitis causes. The plantar fascia ligament is like a rubber band and loosens and contracts with movement. It also absorbs significant weight and pressure. Because of
this function, plantar fasciitis can easily occur from a number of reasons. Among the most common is an overload of physical activity or exercise. Athletes are particularly prone to plantar fasciitis
and commonly suffer from it. Excessive running, jumping, or other activities can easily place repetitive or excessive stress on the tissue and lead to tears and inflammation, resulting in moderate to
severe pain. Athletes who change or increase the difficulty of their exercise routines are also prone to overdoing it and causing damage. Another common cause of plantar fasciitis is arthritis.
Certain types of arthritis can cause inflammation to develop in tendons, resulting in plantar fasciitis. This cause is particularly common among elderly patients. Diabetes is also a factor that can
contribute to further heel pain and damage, particularly among the elderly. Among the most popular factors that contribute to plantar fasciitis is wearing incorrect shoes. In many cases, shoes either
do not fit properly, or provide inadequate support or cushioning. While walking or exercising in improper shoes, weight distribution becomes impaired, and significantly stress can be added to the
plantar fascia ligament.
Pain tends to start gradually, often just in the heel, but it can sometimes be felt along the whole of the plantar fascia. The symptoms are initially worse in the morning and mostly after, rather
than during, activity. As the condition becomes worse, the symptoms become more persistent.
If you see a doctor for heel pain, he or she will first ask questions about where you feel the pain. If plantar fasciitis is suspected, the doctor will ask about what activities you've been doing
that might be putting you at risk. The doctor will also examine your foot by pressing on it or asking you to flex it to see if that makes the pain worse. If something else might be causing the pain,
like a heel spur or a bone fracture, the doctor may order an X-ray to take a look at the bones of your feet. In rare cases, if heel pain doesn't respond to regular treatments, the doctor also might
order an MRI scan of your foot. The good news about plantar fasciitis is that it usually goes away after a few months if you do a few simple things like stretching exercises and cutting back on
activities that might have caused the problem. Taking over-the-counter medicines can help with pain. It's rare that people need surgery for plantar fasciitis. Doctors only do surgery as a last resort
if nothing else eases the pain.
Non Surgical Treatment
Plantar fasciitis can be a difficult problem to treat, with no panacea available. Fortunately, most patients with this condition eventually have satisfactory outcomes with nonsurgical treatment.
Therefore, management of patient expectations minimizes frustration for both the patient and the provider.
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.
The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to wear shoes that are well made and fit your feet. This is especially important when you exercise or walk a lot or stand for a long time on hard
surfaces. Get new athletic shoes before your old shoes stop supporting and cushioning your feet. You should also avoid repeated jarring to the heel. Keep a healthy weight. Do your leg and foot
stretching exercises regularly.