Plantar Fasciitis is a very painful inflammatory condition affecting the thick band of connective tissue known as the “Plantar Fascia”, that runs from the heel bone to the heads of the metatarsals (base of toes). This fascia helps to maintain the longitudinal arch of the foot and helps in shock absorption when we are on our feet.
Some thickening of the fascia and loss of elasticity may also occur with the inflammation as a response to injury.
It affects both sexes and any age group but onset is most common between 40 – 60 years of age and approx. 1 in 10 people will suffer from Plantar Fasciitis at some stage in their lives.
A number of different factors can contribute to plantar fasciitis, including being overweight, working in a job which requires you to stand for several hours a day, if you have flat feet, or alternatively a high arch. Other contributing factors can be as diverse as wearing high heels and then switching abruptly to flat shoes, taking up a new form of exercise, continually wearing shoes that are worn out and have weak support, having an abnormal walking position, or having a tight Achilles tendon.
Pain is usually worst upon weight-bearing first thing in the morning or after a period off of the feet. It usually begins to ease once the sufferer has been on their feet for several minutes.
Treatment Of The Condition
There are no quick fixes for this condition and resolving it can take many months, but generally the sooner the sufferer gets it properly diagnosed and commences treatment then the sooner it should respond.
Icing the area and/or the use of oral or topical anti-inflammatory agents will help.
Stretching exercises, massage, ultrasound, strapping and over-the-counter orthotics or gel cushions may all be useful. In some cases where faulty foot mechanics are the cause of the problem then custom made orthotics may be necessary.
A Podiatrist will be able to direct you as to the best way forwards.
It should be noted that Cortisone injection and surgical intervention should only be considered if all else fails and in the case of cortisone, it must be used no more than once or twice because overuse will cause a weakening and thinning of the fascia.