Main Areas You Must Understand About This Condition

by David McCullough

Plantar fasciitis is a medical condition that involves the degradation of the plantar fascia, a dense and fibrous ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot. Damage to this strip of tissue can result in foot and heel pain, which if left untreated can lead to disability.

The pain that is associated with plantar fasciitis typically occurs where the fascia connects to the calcaneous, otherwise known as the heel bone.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, and occurs when small tears develop throughout the fascia. This effect not only causes pain, but inflammation as well, which can essentially contribute to the overall level of pain and discomfort a particular patient may experience.

The goals of treatment for plantar fasciitis consist of resolving the root causes that are causing the plantar fascia to become damaged, reversing the damage, and alleviating the symptomatology that is associated with such damage.

Etiology and Affected Populations

Plantar fasciitis results from the damaging of the plantar fascia, which ultimately leads to pain and inflammation and further damage over time. This damage can be caused by a number of factors, with the most prevalent causes being abnormal motion in the foot, and an increase in the amount of stress to the fascia.

Pronation occurs when the inner feet turn inward during walking or running, and when this occurs an increased amount of stress can be passed on to the plantar fascia, thus resulting in damage.

Over pronation and other foot irregularities aren’t the sole causes however, as populations who engage in a higher than normal level of physical activity are typically at risk as well. Athletes such as runners who are on their feet for prolonged periods of time, and people who work on their feet for much of the day are at a higher risk for plantar fasciitis.

Other populations that may be at a higher risk for this condition include the obese, pregnant women, people with gait irregularities, and people with either high arches or very flat feet.

Symptomatology

Most cases of plantar fasciitis are characterized by pain, which most often occurs in and around the heel bone. This pain is caused by the damage to the plantar fascia and the resulting inflammation that occurs. It strikes most often during the morning hours, after a respite of some sort, or after prolonged period of activity.

Patients characterize the pain as a stone bruise, a sharp dagger, a deep throbbing, or a dull ache. If left untreated this pain can progress in severity and can become a chronic condition, leading to other medical problems.

Diagnosis

Patients experiencing heel pain on a regular basis should immediately seek out professional medical help, as only a qualified medical professional can provide a proper diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.

A proper diagnosis should include a proper physical examination that takes into account the patient’s history, symptomatology, and daily routine, among other factors. Most doctors will rarely have to use scanning procedures such as x-ray and MRI, although these may be appropriate for certain cases.

Treatment


Most patients respond well to simple forms of treatment such as rest and ice, and require no invasive procedures. Altering of the patient’s normal pattern of activity is typically recommended, as this can give the plantar fascia a chance to heal, and the accompanying inflammation an opportunity to reside.

Patients who must continue to operate on their feet usually can benefit from various orthotics, or a specialized pair of shoes that is designed to convey the appropriate level of support and comfort that can foster a healing environment. Getting the best shoes for plantar fasciitis doesn’t always have to consist of getting footwear that is designed specifically for people with plantar fasciitis, as any kind of supportive shoe or sneaker that fits well can do the job most of the time.

Other forms of treatment include drugs, surgery, the use of foot braces and night splints, the taping of the foot, and exercises for the foot and Achilles tendon. The use of drugs, and in particular NSAID pain relievers such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen are commonly prescribed, as these can not only provide the patient with a significant level of pain relief, but can also have an effect on the inflammation that is present as well.

Surgical procedures such as plantar fascia release are used as a last resort, and carry the risk of nerve injury, infection, and rupture to the plantar fascia. Braces and night splints can be implemented to keep the plantar fascia stretched out during sleep, thus preventing further damage and creating a healing environment for the foot. Exercises such as the stretching of the Achilles Tendon can reduce the amount of stress that is placed on the plantar fascia, and can result in further promotion of a healing environment.

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