The plantar fascia consists of three strong fibrous bands that run from the heel bone, calcaneus, to the ligaments of the top of the metatarsals, located mid-foot. The plantar fascia provides support through the arch of the foot and acts as a tension bridge in the foot to provide shock absorption during activity. There are also small plantar nerves embedded throughout the plantar fascia, which act to register and mediate pain.
Plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain, is a form of pathological degeneration and inflammation to the plantar fascia and accounts for 1% of all orthopedic visits (Riddle and Schappert, 2004). If tension in the plantar fascia is too great, small tears can arise in the tendons and repetitive over-stretching or tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed. The pain is localized to the bottom of the foot near the heel. It commonly causes pain that usually occurs with the first steps in the morning, with the pain decreasing normally throughout the day. It may also return after long periods of standing or after rising from a seated position. Pain can also be felt after exercise, not during it.
Mostly, plantar fasciitis will develop without an identifiable reason. However, there are many risk factors that may make you more prone to develop the condition:
- Tight calf muscles, limits ankle flexibility
- Very high arch or flat feet
- Repetitive, high impact activity (running/sports)
- Occupations that require a lot of standing or walking on hard surfaces
- Over-pronation (feet and ankles roll too far inward)
If you do not treat plantar fasciitis it can become chronic and you may not be able to keep up with your current level of activity. Plantar fasciitis can change the way you walk and could result in other orthopedic problems due to compensated gait.
Treatments during early stages of plantar fasciitis are relatively conservative (Di Giovanni, 2012) and can include:
- Supportive shoes or orthotics
- Night splints
- Stretching of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. It is important to seek advice from a physician if chronic pain occurs and before starting any medical treatments.
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- 2.Riddle D.L., Schappert, S.M. (2004). Volume of ambulatory care visits and patterns of care for patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis: a national study of medical doctors. Foot Ankle Int. 25, 303-310.
- 3.Young, C.C. (2016). Plantar fasciitis: background, anatomy, pathophysiology. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/86143-overv...
- 4.AOFAS. (2016). Plantar fasciitis. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/conditions/ailmen... -the-heel/pages/planar-fasciitis.aspx.
- 5.Mayo Clinic. (2016). Plantar fasciitis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pla...