What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar-FasciitisThis, anyway, is its technical name. But many know it by one of its more familiar names, such as Jogger’s Heel, or just Heel Pain. Its medical name comes from the fact that it’s a very common inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia – a strong fibrous tissue that extends from the heel bone to the toes. The function of this tissue is to provide a supportive structure for the arch of the foot as well as a shock absorber for the foot. The pain resulting from the condition Plantar Fasciitis varies from a mild irritation to near incapacitation.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Though Plantar Fasciitis can affect anyone, those who are very active, or who engage in a lot of walking or running, are particularly susceptible to the condition. This is because such activities can cause excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, which – in turn – can cause micro tears in the tissue which are painful.

However, walking and running are not the only cause – flat feet, obesity and prolonged standing can also trigger the condition. Flat-soled footwear with little or no arch support or cushioning is also a cause.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

There isn’t usually a straightforward or quick fix to Plantar Fasciitis. Normally, a multi faceted approach is advised, which might include treatments such as orthotic prescription, weight management (in obese patients), exercise, hydrotherapy and manual therapy. Those with the condition often have a tight Achilles tendon, which in turn causes the plantar fascia to tighten up (especially during the night, which is why pain is felt first thing in the morning), so gentle exercise can play an important part in curing the condition, as it stretches the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia. But rest is very important, too, as this will give the tissue time to heal. Other treatments include:

  • Rolling a cold water bottle under the arch of your foot for five minutes – this can give temporary pain relief.
  • If the pain is too much, an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen may help.
  • Your GP may recommend a steroid injection which will help to reduce the inflammation.
  • Wearing shoes with good arch support.
  • In very persistent cases, surgical procedures may be required.

How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

You can do a number of things to help prevent plantar fasciitis.

  • If you’re overweight, consider reducing your body mass to put less stress on the feet.
  • Wear shoes that offer good support to the arch.
  • Change worn out shoes – running shoes should be changed after every 500 miles.
  • Before running (or similar activities) make sure you do a warm-up in the form of stretching exercises for the Achilles, calves and plantar fascia.
  • Avoid walking on hard surfaces barefoot.