What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Heel pain is a very common foot complaint. When the pain is isolated to the bottom of the heel it is typically due to injury and overuse of an important ligamentous band called the Plantar Fascia. When it’s injured and inflamed we refer to the problem as Plantar Fasciitis.
Defining Plantar Fasciitis
The Plantar Fascia is band or strap-like structure that is very important in helping maintain the structural shape of the foot and arch. It originates off the bottom of the heel bone, spans the length of the foot to then attach to the ball of the foot. It is weakest at or near its attachment to the heel bone where the injury often occurs.
Overuse injuries like this, typically occur when we become more active and when we are lacking good shoe support. Plantar fasciitis is very common in people who tend to be on their feet a lot or work on hard unforgiving surfaces or on uneven terrain such as: factory workers, warehouse workers, postal workers, landscapers, nurses, avid walkers, runners and athletes in general to name a few.
In the past, Plantar Fasciitis was commonly referred to as Heel Spur Syndrome. This was because on X-ray there are often findings of a small boney spur or out growth of bone off the heel at the attachment site of the plantar fascia. We know now however, that the presence of a spur on X-ray is NOT the cause of the heel pain but more so the chronic inflammation and strained condition of the ligament itself.
Development of the Symptoms
When people develop heel pain due to Plantar Fasciitis they typically relate that their symptoms developed slowly over time without recollection of injury or insult to the area. They do commonly however state that they’ve become more active on their feet, perhaps have gained weight and may not be wearing supportive shoe gear. Painful symptoms are usually worse with prolonged standing or walking as well as with first few steps after resting off feet.
Treatment recommendations vary and typically include stretching regimens, supportive shoe recommendations, arch support/orthotic therapy, short term NSAID use, warm/cold treatments, massage with analgesic gels and at times a cortisone injection. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms it is best to seek help sooner rather than later. A Podiatrist/Foot & Ankle specialist will be able to provide a comprehensive assessment and initiate a treatment plan to get you back on track.