What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Our plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue, running from our heel to the ball of our feet. This structure plays a crucial role in stabilising the arch of our foot, and provides support to our feet as we go through our day-to-day activities.
When we overload this structure and strain the fascia, it gets injured and our body elicits pain and discomfort. This initial phase is termed as plantar fasciitis. The onset of this injury usually follows a change to our daily regime, activities, or requirements of our lower limbs and feet.
However, oftentimes individuals do not seek early treatment and try a “wait-and-see” approach. Over a prolonged period, the plantar fascia constantly has to deal with that increased load from daily activities. At this point, the initial inflammation of plantar fasciitis is over, the injury has become chronic, and structural change has occurred to the plantar fascia. The condition is more appropriately termed plantar fasciopathy.
The most common cause and risk factor is the loading of the foot – both the intensity and the duration of load (i.e how much load, and for how long).
For a more comprehensive understanding of why you may suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, your Podiatrist will complete a full range of assessments, and history taking of your activity levels and footwear history.
However, some common causes of Plantar Fasciitis include – but are not limited to:
- Prolonged use of unsupportive and flat footwear
- Sudden transition into flat shoes after using heeled shoes for prolonged periods of time
- Poor footwear, or old worn-out footwear
- Diminished strength and endurance of lower limb muscles
- Poor foot posture
- Limb Length Discrepancy
- Over training
- Sudden increase in intensity and frequency of activity
- Weight gain
- Occupations that require long durations of standing
- Age – this affects the elasticity of your tissues
What will I experience?
Some signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis/fasciopathy include – but are not limited to:
- Pain at the underside of the heel on weightbearing
- Pain on the first steps in the morning when getting out of bed. Pain gradually eases off but re-establishes toward the end of the day or after long standing
- Pain on first weight bearing after sitting for prolonged periods of time
- Pain on direct palpation of the plantar heel area and possibly the plantar fascia band
- Possible swelling at the heel and ankle region
How can we help you?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions seen in clinics. Conservative methods of treatment for plantar fasciitis include:
- LOVE & PEACE protocol – effective only at the initial stages of the injury
- Physiotherapist-prescribed strengthening exercises to address associated weaknesses in the lower limb that is contributing to the plantar fascia pain
- Adjusting training intensity and schedule to allow for tissues to recover
- Foot and ankle strapping
- Shockwave Therapy
- Custom prescribed foot orthotics – these can help to address any underlying biomechanical contributing factors to the injury, and to offload the injury to ensure that your daily routine or training is minimally affected, while allowing the injury to heal
How long can Plantar Fasciitis last?
Can I just wait and see if it resolves?
Unfortunately, plantar fasciopathy is not a condition that would spontaneously go away by ignoring the pain. Generally, the longer the condition is left untreated, the longer the recovery period will be. There have been some cases where time and activity modification have helped bring pain down to a manageable level. But because the injury is still there, and the underlying root cause has not been addressed, this becomes an annoying condition that comes and goes.
This is also a condition where individuals have gradually cut down their activity to a large extent overtime to tolerate the pain, leading to a lifestyle that is sedentary or minimally active at best.
Speak to our Podiatrist to find out how to manage this condition. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, Plantar Fasciitis can be treated, and prevented.
I have a bone spur at my heel. Is this the cause for my heel pain?
It is not uncommon that the development of heel spurs accompanies the diagnosis of plantar fasciopathy. Heel spurs can happen as the body’s reaction to stress and strain caused by plantar fasciopathy. Over time, the body responds to the stress by building extra bone tissue. However, it is important to note that the heel spur MAY NOT be the cause of the pain, and is quite often asymptomatic.
Must I only wear specific footwear to manage my Plantar Fasciitis?
Ideally, a good stable pair of sport shoes is the most recommended measure on preventing and treating Plantar Fasciitis. However, we understand this is neither feasible, nor an attractive solution. At The Rehab Centre, you can be assured that we will work with you to come up with a plan specific for your lifestyle requirements.