Plantar Fasciitis – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Pain in the bottom of your heel is a prominent sign of plantar fasciitis. A thick band of connective tissue (plantar fascia) – that is, muscles and ligaments form an arch that connects your heel to the front of your foot. This band forms an arch that acts like a shock absorber and supports your foot and helps you walk.

How is Plantar Fascia important?

The natural design of plantar fascia allows it to take in all strains, shocks, pressures, and stresses that you put on your foot while walking, running, and playing. But excess pressure is bad as it damages the band of ligaments.

This is the most common orthopedic condition. Due to excessive work, wear, and tear in your day-to-day life, the ligaments, tendons, and muscles associated with plantar fascia may get damaged. When the plantar fascia gets irritated, the inflammation can cause stiffness and heel pain.

This is the common symptom of Plantar Fasciitis.

You may feel pain as soon as you put your first step on the floor in the morning. The pain can be stabbing and severe. But once you get up and move, your pain diminishes and goes away. However, it might return after prolonged standing or standing up after sitting for a long.

What are the unique symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

  • Pain in the heel or bottom of the foot
  • The first few steps are painful after getting out of bed in the morning
  • Pain after taking a long rest – such as after getting out of the car or bed
  • After a few minutes of walking, the pain subsides
  • Pain augments after completing an activity, exercise, walking, or running but not during the activity.

What are the risk factors for plantar fasciitis?

In a majority of the cases, the cause of plantar fasciitis is idiopathic or unknown. Still, there are some risk factors as the ones below that can make you prone to this condition:

  • Excess body weight (obesity)
  • High arch or flat feet
  • High-impact repetitive activities (sports, running, and dancing)
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Excess work or involvement in any activity
  • Middle age group

How is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?

Your orthopedic doctor takes into consideration all the symptoms, and your medical history and then keenly examines your foot. The doctor will look for tenderness on the bottom of your heel and restricted up motion (dorsiflexion) in your ankle. The doctor will order X-rays and imaging tests if necessary.

What is the treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?

In a majority of cases, home-based simple treatment methods can help in improving the condition after a few months of treatment.

First of all, you should stop all the activities (dancing, running, aerobics) that are responsible for the condition. Your doctor may recommend support (crutches) and special boots to provide rest to your shoes for a short period of time. The next action is to change your activity to a low-impact one such as swimming or cycling. Next, your physiotherapist will show you two exercises: calf stretch and Plantar fascia stretch.

Your physiotherapist will suggest some additional exercises that work on your calf muscles and plantar fascia. Your orthopedic doctor may recommend supportive shoes (thick-soled shoes with extra cushioning) and night splints that help in stretching plantar fascia during sleep. If you have unbearable and severe pain, cortisone injection (steroid) may be recommended. The other treatment modalities include PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections and extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) and ultrasonic tissue repair. ESWT is sometimes recommended prior to considering surgery as it is a minimally invasive treatment. If a long-term aggressive non-surgical treatment does not offer results even after 10 to 12 months, then surgery is considered.

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