Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia – a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue in the sole of the foot that supports the arch of the foot. Beginning at the heel bone, the plantar fascia extends the length of your foot to connect with your toes at the ball of the foot. When you walk, your weight is distributed across your feet. Any imbalances in the mechanics of your foot and distribution of weight can potentially cause pain. When placed under excessive stress, the plantar fascia stretches too far and tears, resulting in inflammation. The effects of the stress can build up gradually or be the result of a sudden occurrence.
Repetitive movements such as walking or running, stretch the plantar fascia. Because it is not very flexible, this can cause small tears in the fascia, which leads to inflammation and pain. Other factors such as high arches, fallen arches, or a change in the walking surface contribute to the stress placed on the plantar fascia and heel.
Some of the most common causes include:
- Excessive weight load on the foot due
to obesity or prolonged standing
- Flat Feet
- High Arches
- 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
- Poor fitting footwear, including flip-flops
Pain is commonly felt on the bottom of the foot, where the fascia attaches to the heel. It is most severe in the mornings when getting out of bed because the fascia is in a shortened position at rest, and when you stand up, the sudden stretch and load of your body weight pulls on the attachment.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis vary from mild to severe. They can linger for months at a time, with pain increasing and decreasing in an unpredictable pattern. Often, discomfort may nearly disappear for several weeks, only to re-emerge full-blown after a single workout or change in activity. The pain may even temporarily ‘fade’ as you walk.
A physiotherapist can assess your injury and provide appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises that will promote an earlier return to your activity, as well as advice on how to prevent recurrence of injury.
Treatments May Include:
- Warm up the foot in the morning
- Protect the area with good shoes
- Ice the area with a frozen water bottle after high activity- 10 minutes max
- At-home therapeutics
- Corticosteroid injections
- Custom orthotics
- Ultrasound Therapy
- ART – Active Release Technique
- Shockwave Therapy
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