- Plantar fascia is the thick ligament (fascia) that encapsulates the foot muscles, and connects the heel bone to the bones in the ball of the foot and toes. This dense fibrous ligament gives the sole of the foot (plantar) its hard surface, and keeps the arch of the foot intact. The tension on this ligament when walking is two times the normal body weight, and constant pulling and stretching increases the tension.
- Inflammation of the fascia (fasciitis) is the result of this constant tension and pain at the sole of the foot when one attempts to walk.
- Repetitive PF or tension from other foot injuries will lead to the formation of an extra bony heel growth known as a heel spur. Walking or standing on a heel spur is painful and uncomfortable.
- Both PF and heel spur press and trap foot nerves, causing further problems, such as pain, numbness, and tingling in the foot.
- Pain upon walking or standing
- Pain improves with rest
- Pain may last for days, months, or years
- Pain in front of the heel, but one can still move foot around
- Pain with the first few steps in the morning
- Numbness or tingling may be present.
- Swelling at the bottom of the
- Malalignment (abnormal position) of the heel
- Pronation -- outward rotation of the heel and inward rotation of the ankle
- Sudden change in activity
- Lack of flexibility of the calf muscle which is located behind the leg
- Flat feet or, flat arches
- Poorly-fitting shoes
- May run in families
- Weight gain
- General body exam
- Calf muscle may be stiff.
- Pressure on the heel or fascia, or moving the foot may be painful
- Gait assessment -- doctor may ask you to walk or turn in the office.
- X-Ray of the foot may show heel spur.
- Doctor may consult with a podiatrist (foot doctor) or an orthopedic surgeon.
- Male = female
- Flat feet
- Running on hard ground
- Occupations where standing for a long time is required (grocery clerk, retail sales)
- Poor arch support
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Try swimming
- Stretch the calf muscles and foot muscles before walking or any exercise
- Massage the bottom of the feet
- Ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel applied to the bottom of foot can reduce inflammation.
- Ice pack to the bottom of feet after sports
- Good sturdy solid shoes
- Heel pads may help
- Good arch support-cushioned shoes with raised heel
- Advil, aspirin, or ibuprofen can reduce the swelling. These may cause bleeding in the stomach, so check with your doctor first.
- Tylenol is good for the pain, but not the swelling.
- Do not walk through the pain because it may cause more damage.
- The doctor may suggest:
- Losing weight
- Refer you to physical therapy
- Give you Plantar Fasciitis night splint (like an arch support)
- Refer you for Ultrasound (a machine that uses sound therapy to reduce the inflammation)
- If all fails, the new endoscopic fasciotomy surgical
technique can be of help.
Rest and try ice, aspirin, or Advil. Stretch before exercising, and change your shoes. If all this fails, contact your doctor.
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