The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot. It lies just below the skin layers as it passes over the arch of the foot. A common ailment called
plantar fasciitis is the result of this ligament becomes inflamed. This can Foot anatomyhappen from injury, physical stress, or sometimes for no obvious reason. The most common point for this
inflammation is where this ligament joints the heel bone. Typical symptoms are the pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel usually most intense in the mornings when arising or after a long
period with little movement. The pain typically diminishes with movement. Many suffering from plantar fasciitis have heel spurs. Even though they are in the same area they are unrelated and the heel
spurs do not cause the plantar fasciitis. Most times heel spurs will not cause pain and in many go undetected unless they have an x-ray for some other reason.
A variety of causes exist for plantar fasciitis. Some of the most common causes include 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. Another cause of pain is the shortening of the plantar fascia overnight due to the ankle bending, causing the toes to point towards the ground. The
plantar fascia stretches in the morning when you stand. The act of lengthening it causes a great deal of pain. However, this is not limited to an overnight occurrence, it can happen any time the foot
is flexed (i.e., pointed) for extended periods of time. For example, driving in the car for long periods can cause fasciitis in the right foot, which steps on the accelerator.
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain when you walk. You may also feel pain when you stand and possibly even when you are resting. This pain typically occurs first thing in the morning
after you get out of bed, when your foot is placed flat on the floor. The pain occurs because you are stretching the plantar fascia. The pain usually lessens with more walking, but you may have it
again after periods of rest. You may feel no pain when you are sleeping because the position of your feet during rest allows the fascia to shorten and relax.
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by a health care provider after consideration of a personâs presenting history, risk factors, and clinical examination. Tenderness to palpation along the
inner aspect of the heel bone on the sole of the foot may be elicited during the physical examination. The foot may have limited dorsiflexion due to tightness of the calf muscles or the Achilles
tendon. Dorsiflexion of the foot may elicit the pain due to stretching of the plantar fascia with this motion. Diagnostic imaging studies are not usually needed to diagnose plantar fasciitis.
However, in certain cases a physician may decide imaging studies (such as X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound or MRI) are warranted to rule out other serious causes of foot pain. Bilateral heel pain or
heel pain in the context of a systemic illness may indicate a need for a more in-depth diagnostic investigation. Lateral view x-rays of the ankle are the recommended first-line imaging modality to
assess for other causes of heel pain such as stress fractures or bone spur development. Plantar fascia aponeurosis thickening at the heel greater than 5 millimeters as demonstrated by ultrasound is
consistent with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. An incidental finding associated with this condition is a heel spur, a small bony calcification on the calcaneus (heel bone), which can be found in
up to 50% of those with plantar fasciitis. In such cases, it is the underlying plantar fasciitis that produces the heel pain, and not the spur itself. The condition is responsible for the creation of
the spur though the clinical significance of heel spurs in plantar fasciitis remains unclear.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are several things you can do to self-treat your heel or arch pain. The first thing is to wear better shoes and consider adding arch supports or custom foot orthotics to your shoes. Stretching
the calf muscles can also often be helpful. Try to stretch when you first get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Another good exercise is to "roll" your arch and heel. This is done
by placing a tennis ball, golf ball, or lacrosse ball on the floor and rolling your foot on top of it. Some people get extra benefit by "rolling" on a frozen water bottle. You should also carefully
evaluate your fitness program as you may be overdoing it. You may want consider backing of new or recently added exercises or increases in training until your heel pain improves. If you work at a
standing job try to take more time to walk around during the day and avoid standing in one place for too long.
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.
Calf stretch. Lean forward against a wall with one knee straight and the heel on the ground. Place the other leg in front, with the knee bent. To stretch the calf muscles and the heel cord, push your
hips toward the wall in a controlled fashion. Hold the position for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat this exercise 20 times for each foot. A strong pull in the calf should be felt during the stretch.
Plantar fascia stretch. This stretch is performed in the seated position. Cross your affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the toes of your painful foot and slowly pull them toward you
in a controlled fashion. If it is difficult to reach your foot, wrap a towel around your big toe to help pull your toes toward you. Place your other hand along the plantar fascia. The fascia should
feel like a tight band along the bottom of your foot when stretched. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat it 20 times for each foot. This exercise is best done in the morning before standing or