Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of the plantar fascia. This is a sturdy band of tissue that stretches from the heel up to the middle foot bones. It provides support to the arch of the foot and functions as a shock absorber.
What are the possible causes?
Continuous minor injuries to the fascia is believed to cause plantar fasciitis. The injury is usually close to where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
An individual is more likely to damage the plantar fascia during certain scenarios such as the following:
- If on the feet for an extended period or engaging in a lot of running, walking or standing when not used to it or had a sedentary lifestyle before.
- Recently started an exercise routine on a different surface
- If wearing shoes that have poor cushioning or arch support
- If overweight since it adds strain on the heel
- Overuse or sudden stretching of the sole
- Tight Achilles tendon
Oftentimes, there is no evident cause for plantar fasciitis, especially among the elderly.
What are the indications?
Heel pain is the characteristic symptom that can occur on the underside of the heel. Nevertheless, one spot is usually the main source of the pain, usually close to the heel that can be tender to the touch.
The pain is worse upon waking up in the morning or after extended periods of rest where no weight is placed on the foot. It is recommended to engage in gentle exercise to ease the discomfort as the day goes by.
Abrupt stretching of the sole of the foot can worsen the pain such as walking up the stairs or on tiptoes. There is also limping due to the pain.
Initial treatment for plantar fasciitis
Allow the foot to rest
This must be done as much as possible. The individual should avoid running, standing or walking and unnecessary stretching of the sole. Gentle exercises and walking are usually recommended.
Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces. Select shoes that have cushioned heels and good arch support. It is best to use laced sports shoes. Remember to avoid old or worn out shoes that could not provide enough cushion to the heels.
Heel padding and arch supports
Various padding and shoe inserts can be used to cushion the heel and provide support to the foot arch. This work best if inserted in the shoes always. The objective is to elevate the heel by 1 cm.
In case the heel is sore, slice a small hole in the heel padding at the site of the soreness.
Pain medications such as paracetamol can ease the pain. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be used. These medications work by reducing the inflammation.
An ice pack can be applied on the affected foot for 15-20 minutes to help alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis.